Journal of Youth Engagement

In the worthy endeavor of making our Religious School programming as meaningful as possible for our children, we struggle with questions. How can we tweak our program to engage more families? How do we compete with other extracurricular activities? How can we afford to make changes? And how do we stay relevant in the lives of our families? From surveys and studies, we see elements that threaten to diminish our enrollment. In response, we have to keep with the times. Although I have no quick solutions, I can share our story.

Every year, as a professional team, we spend the summer...

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The stone passes, from student to teacher and back to the student again. They speak softly and listen well. Seated on meditation pillows in the light of a large candle, they talk about their past week – the blessings they saw, and the challenges they faced. This is how we, at Kulanu – the Cincinnati Reform Jewish High School – begin our time together on Sunday evenings. Creating a sacred space. Rather than one long teacher in-service, we hold hour-long gatherings for our team of staff and student leaders, prior to each session of classes. Every voice matters, every voice is heard.    ...

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There’s an old Hassidic story about a prince who is convinced that he is a rooster, and therefore takes off all his clothes and refuses to eat unless he may do so from underneath the king’s table. After inviting many experts in child rearing (whose advice fails to make an impression on the prince), the king finally calls upon the local rabbi. Much to everyone’s surprise, the rabbi too crawls under the table and eats a meal there with the prince. After some time he says to the prince, “hey, did you know that roosters can wear clothes if they want?” 

“Oh good,” replies the prince...

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What happens when 5,000 people begin a day together in one building? Well, one thing you could expect is the Starbucks line to be long. But, at the URJ Biennial, magic happened even while waiting in line.

NFTY Texas Oklahoma board member Logan Kramer explains it best in a blog post she wrote while at the Biennial: “I struck up a conversation with the woman behind me [in the Starbucks line] and she didn’t realize I was a high school attendee until about five minutes into our conversation,” says Logan. “Here, I’m not the ‘token teen’ or pushed aside as the youngest in the room. I’m...

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The three pieces we have assembled for you in this issue of the Journal of Youth Engagement have several elements in common that are worth highlighting. As youth professionals, Becky, PJ and Laura all point to the need to ensure that teen voices are being heard.First – since we know our programs are most attractive when they are relevant and meaningful to our teen audience, it is vital to bring them into the thinking and planning process. Sometimes, obtaining teen input isn’t easy. The most important voices can be the hardest ones to find, because they are the teens who are not...

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