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Inside Leadership
Group of smiling teens together at Shabbat dinner

When I first startedmy job as the songleader and director of youth engagement for Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, OH, I saw the words “Director of Youth Engagement" and thought, “All right, so I’m running the youth group” – and that was a pretty terrifying notion. I’d always been told that I was great at working with nursery school-aged children and should continue working with younger kids, so as I entered into a role working with teens, I had my doubts.

And so, as a newcomer to the ...

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Smiling NFTY members and alumni of all ages pose together in front of a logo banner

Think back to your days in high school. Who were your friends? What did you do on the weekends? How were your grades? All of these questions (except for this last one) bring me back to my time in NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement. Whether it was going out of town for a regional event, planning local events at my synagogue, or getting ready for an awesome summer at Jewish summer camp, my NFTY community made me who I am today.

Amidst all of the excitement of 1,000 teens being together in Chicago for...

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Trans flag blowing in the wind against a blue sky

Yesterday, President Trump announced his decision to overturn a federal rule making the nation's public schools welcoming and safe for transgender students. The Reform Movement laments this serious step backwards in the effort to protect transgender youth - and, more broadly, in the march toward equal civil rights for all Americans. The URJ issued a joint statement with the Religious Action Center, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

The rejection of Title IX protections for...

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Smiling teen girl holding a Torah in a crowd of teens

Pulsing music. Cheering crowds. A roar of enthusiasm as fans rushed the stage. 

No, these aren’t scenes from the last time I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert. Rather, they're from this past Friday night as I celebrated Shabbat with 1,400 Jewish teens, young adults, alumni, congregational professionals, and lay leaders at NFTY Convention, the largest Reform Jewish youth gathering in North America.

As the Union for Reform Judaism's Lay Partner for Youth, I have the privilege of spending time with...

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Transgender restroom sign

In 2014, Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park, PA, hosted a “Kindness Counts” conference that focused on welcoming LGBTQ Jews to the community. Recently, a small group of congregational leaders decided it was time for a second gathering, this time focusing on inclusion of trans and non-binary Jews in synagogue life.

We moved quickly. With approval from the rabbi and board, the three co-chairs – two of whom are trans activists and one of whom is also trans – assembled a planning committee and “Kindness Counts Bet: Moving Beyond the...

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About Inside Leadership

Inside Leadership, the blog at URJ.org, is a source for Reform Jewish leaders to get the latest news and though-provoking articles about Jewish communal life.