• Happy New Year! Check Out the URJ’s Top 18 Stories of 2016

    What a year it’s been. With 2017 fast-approaching, we’ve rounded up the top 18 Reform Movement stories of 2016, listed below in no particular order. Looking for even more major Jewish moments?


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  • Yallah Israel Club!

    Growing up in Hebrew School, I remember talking about Israel – the land, the people, and our connection to it. We talked about Israel as a Jewish state, why that should matter to us, and what it means to love this far away homeland.


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  • The Power of One

    With the expansion of the Machon Summer Leadership Institute at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps, participants (Machonikim) not only learn how to become summer camp counselors, but they are also challenged to bring their newfound leadership skills to life, at home, through the creation and implementation of their very own Pop-Up Event. Pop-Up Events provide Machonikim with new opportunities to bring their ideas to life, engage their peers, and strengthen their leadership skills. Pop-Up Events are local, interest-based programs planned and led by teen leaders, primarily from the Machon program at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps. They are entry-level, low commitment, stand-alone events, each with a specific focus on Jewish values, outreach, engagement, and community building. Machonikim spent time during the summer planning their Pop-Up Events and we encouraged them to plan their Pop-Up Events in collaboration with their local Jewish community.


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  • Reform Temples Toss Area Teen Tycoons into ‘Shark Tank’

    Every pitch had to relate to social justice or tikkun olam. Teens chose topics including Israel, gender and sexuality, and mindfulness. “I realized there are so many issues in this world, things that are taken for granted and that are simply wrong and need to be addressed and changed,” said Shaina Morrel, a junior at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden. “I am bringing back my own excitement and passion for repairing the world, and my hope is to spread this to others.”


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  • What Happened When I Walked to Shul

    The Summit was designed to empower teens as change agents: (1) Friday: Coming together as a community. Rabbi Jonah Pesner discussed what it takes to take a risk and stand up for our beliefs. (2) Saturday: Learning and shaping an idea. Teens chose from a selection of workshops in topics like gender issues, food justice, the environment, and the dual narrative of Israelis and Palestinians. Teens heard from adult mentors who turned their passions into action, and were encouraged to create an experience to pass on the knowledge they’d gained. (3) Sunday: Producing meaningful impact. The teens presented in a #SharkTankMuseum program during the last day of the summit. They brought their ideas to life in front of judges who offered critical feedback and selected projects to help fund.


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  • How 250 Jewish Teens Are Changing the Face of Youth Engagement

    The inaugural Dana Gershon and Rabbi Jonah Pesner Northeast Leadership Summit focused on creating a new and innovative structure to enable Jewish teens to find their purpose and bring it to life. Attended by more than 250 teens and 60 faculty members and staffers from 20+ organizations, we came together to learn, ideate, and elevate a new cohort of Jewish teen leaders.


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  • TaSTY’s Rosh HaShanah Sermon 5777

    My team, which included Sam S-T, decided that a major social change issue that needed to be addressed was racial injustice. I attended a workshop called “Privilege, Power, and Jews” that forced me to think deeply about my white privilege, but also how being Jewish can connect me to this issue in some specific ways. I know that we were once enslaved ourselves, and I know that in places other than New York we are often victimized for being a minority, yet I also know that in modern America you can hide your Judaism meanwhile you cannot hide the color of your skin. New York generally has very similar views to the Reform movement on this topic, which is helpful, yet we are a global denomination and know there is more to be done around the country.


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  • Building Upon Our Strengths

    Jewish education and youth engagement are in the midst of a paradigm shift. One powerful reality of this shift is the desire of individuals, of all ages, to be prosumers, co-creators of their Jewish experiences. With the formation of the Northeast Teen Collective, these URJ camps are providing a new, year-round, youth engagement and outreach strategy to support Jewish teens in the creation of their own Jewish experiences. This platform creates a 21st century framework for youth empowerment, teen and peer engagement, leadership development, authentic and relevant skill-building, outreach and in-reach through local and accessible experiences, and professional and communal collaboration.


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  • Machon Summer Leadership Institute 2016 at URJ Eisner Camp

    The Machon Summer Leadership Institute is a 7 ½ week holistic leadership development and skill-building internship program for rising high school seniors at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps. Utilizing Jewish values, participants explore what it means to become productive and successful staff members, discover their Jewish identity, and gain valuable skills as Jewish leaders, such as conflict management, communication, community organizing, empathy, caring for and motivating others and self, event and program planning, self and communal advocacy, group dynamics, teaching and presenting, and marketing and outreach.


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  • Emily Messinger Director of the Northeast Teen Collective

    Please join Louis, Director of Eisner Camp, Debby Shriber, Director of Crane Lake Camp and Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Director Campaign for Youth Engagement, as we welcome Emily Messinger and a new program initiative to the Northeast. The Northeast Teen Collective will be the URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camp’s new year-round youth engagement initiative.


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