Engaging Participants in Jewish Life
Reopening Camps and Israel Programs
Summer 2021 was a season of healing, as our 15 URJ camps and Israel programs welcomed 11,000 children, teens, and young adults.
Our youth returned to immersive Jewish living and learning, free to be themselves and share their dreams in a loving, supportive, and joyful environment.
2021 URJ Camp and Israel Program Highlights
Opportunities for connection and engagement were woven throughout every aspect of the first all-digital NFTY Convention, "NC21", ensuring that teens could immerse themselves in their time together, despite the distance.
The event featured a Day of Learning, with sessions on social action, Judaism, and life skills as well as a Day of Service, which highlighted the important work of a variety of social justice organizations.
RJ on the Go
Before the return of in-person gatherings, our interactive RJ on the Go platform provided a critical and ongoing connection to Jewish communal programming. “Taste of Camp” classes offered camp-led sessions on cooking, Israeli dancing, and more, while weekly Shabbat ShaMorning services kept young participants connected to fun and meaningful Jewish educational experiences.
Intro to Judaism in ASL
In 2021, we launched this engaging, 21-session class taught via videoconferencing and led exclusively in American Sign Language by Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe, who is Deaf. Like all our Introduction to Judaism classes, this course is designed for interfaith couples, adults raising Jewish children, spiritual seekers, individuals considering conversion, and Jews who want a meaningful adult learning experience.
As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first woman ordained as a rabbi by HUC, each of our Ten Minutes of Torah Monday commentaries in 5782 (which began in Fall 2021) was written by rabbis, cantors, Jewish educators, and leaders who identify as women, uplifting their voices and analyses and providing Jewish education in an accessible, compelling manner. Such efforts and education lead to committed Jewish lay and professional leadership, as well as an engaged Jewish public.
Photo: Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first woman in the United States to be ordained as a rabbi in 1972. Credit: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
Online Opportunities to Connect
With safety at the top of our minds throughout 2021, many families and congregations continued to choose to connect digitally during the holidays. The URJ hosted Facebook Live events for Passover, Simchat Torah, and Hanukkah, collaborating with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the American Conference of Cantors, URJ Camps alumni, the Leo Baeck Education Center, and others to provide thoughtful, high-quality livestreamed programming for those celebrating at home. Recognizing that Passover seders are among the most cherished of at-home Jewish family rituals, the URJ created a robust resource guide to enliven in-person, digital, and hybrid seders. Collaborating with Reform leaders from North America and the UK, we produced a set of videos that contains blessings, songs, and insights designed to supplement any seder.