L’dor v’dor – from generation to generation – is a sentiment and mission that is at the very heart of Reform Judaism and Congregation Kol Ami. Our Union of Reform Judaism (URJ)–based youth groups are critical to our efforts to help our children connect to each other and to Judaism. Youth group engagement begins in fourth grade and carries throughout high school, with three different groups tailored to the various life stages of our youth and young adults.
We endeavor to inspire our children towards Jewish living by providing key moments in Jewish life, moments with friends that can create bonds that last a lifetime. These groups help our children find their voice in the context of Jewish programming and friends. Through involvement in these groups, a young person can:
KATY is our chapter of NFTY-PAR, the North American Federation of Temple Youth, Pennsylvania Regions. It caters to our high school–aged students in grades 9 through 12 and is student-led.
KATY plans events with local and regional NFTY-PAR chapters. In 2010, KATY hosted our first “shul-in,” a weekend-long gathering of statewide NFTY-PAR members for fun and community service.
Throughout the year, KATY members also participate in social and community-service events locally, in neighboring communities and at various kallah (gatherings), often held over a weekend at URJ Camp Harlam in the Poconos. These kallahs offer amazing opportunities to meet new friends, reconnect with camp friends, engage in tikun olam and celebrate Shabbat in a uniquely youthful way.
Don’t let the name fool you. Senior Youth Group is actually what some might call a “tween” youth group, created to give middle schoolers in grades six through eight a taste of youth group life. It provides leadership training to encourage future KATY and NFTY leadership, a safe forum for exploring the socializing that will dominate the high school years, and many evenings of fun and ruach (spirit). Past events have included bowling, pizza parties and rock climbing.
It is much easier to capture the attention of elementary school students than middle school or high school children. Thus, we begin the foray into youth group involvement when our students are in fourth grade – an age where they are eager to grow up, but still filled with boundless enthusiasm.
Our Junior Youth Group caters to children in fourth and fifth grade, under the very capable and enthusiastic leadership of fifth-grade teacher, Rosalind Holtzman. This group fosters friendships for students who attend a number of different elementary and middle schools, and gives them the opportunity to get to know each other outside of the Religious School setting.
Junior Youth Group events are often built around Jewish themes. Some of our most popular annual events are the sukkah decorating party and dinner and the Hanukkah Fry Fest (where you never know what the students will fry up. Fried pomegranate, anyone?).