Sam Barnett is the NFTY-NAR Regional President. Hope Barkley is NFTY-NAR’s Vice President of Programming.
On Thursday, January 15, we were invited to speak alongside URJ President, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and HUC-JIR President, Rabbi Aaron Panken, at the Open House Reception of the URJ Youth Team’s stunning new offices. It was an amazing opportunity to meet so many amazing leaders in the Reform movement and celebrate the team behind the URJ’s groundbreaking youth programs. It was an honor to be able to give our thoughts at the event. The following are our remarks:
As the teen leaders of the youth movement in New York, we are excited for the leadership team to make its move to HUC. It will allow us to further our already strong commitment to the Campaign for Youth Engagement (CYE). Whether it be by allowing new members to attend their first event for free–as we did this past fall–or universalizing NFTY to minimize all barriers to entry for our programming, we’re making sure to contribute in any way that we can.
As both alumni of the URJ Eisner Camp and current leaders in NFTY, we know the power of Reform Jewish youth engagement and are eager to strengthen our relationships with the URJ, Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR), The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), and URJ camps to help this movement reach its full potential.
We are currently executing our own strategic plan for youth engagement in the NY area, a subset of the larger CYE. As we do this, we are coming up with a stream of potential initiatives, partnerships, and projects that we would love to pursue. With more than 59,000 unengaged eligible Reform Jewish teens in our region, we have lots of potential, but even further to go. Keeping that in mind, it would be our privilege to strengthen our relationships with the various divisions of the Reform Movement to accomplish these ambitious goals.
Looking towards our future, we know that the new proximity of the Youth Team will not only help us stay connected, but also will help us strengthen our partnerships and play a larger role in the Campaign for Youth Engagement.