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Summer Youth Experience

Two NFTY participants praying at the Kotel

At the Kotel, the stark contrasts between Reform and Orthodox Jews and the physical separation of males and females left me ambivalent during my recent visit.

Daniel Goldberg
Female songleader Dawn Bernstein leads a group of campers in song in a photo from URJ GUCI camp in the 1970s

When I was growing up, Jewish music was the sole purview of men. I had never seen a woman sing on the bimah (pulpit) - but then I made history.

Dawn Bernstein
Scientist wearing gloves, a mask, and protective glasses examining a computer chip

Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and other high-tech companies have longtime research facilities in Israel. What brings them and why do they stay?

Rachel Landman
Three males with their arms around one another from the back facing a female songleader on the bimah with a guitar

I cite my parents’ decision to raise a Jewish family as my gift of a lifetime because of the astronomical impact it has had on my life thus far.

Sean Carlin
Female summer campers dressed all in white as is customary for Shabbat services at Jewish camp

I promise that for the rest of my life, I will fight for your safety. I will fight for your freedom from fear. I will fight in memory of Alyssa Alhadeff, and in honor of all of you.

Madeline Budman
Songleaders dressed in white playing guitar and singing on an outdoor stage at URJ Camp Newman looking out over Shabbat services attended by campers

Recent California wildfires devastated Camp Newman’s physical space. I feel that it is my duty – and my honor – to give back to the camp that has given me the world. 

Rachel Wolman
Handpainted wall with the word MISHPOCHA in Hebrew which means family

Fires cannot destroy our fond, sacred memories of camp – and Camp Newman’s traditions and practices will continue. 

Larry Glickman
Image taken from the back of an outdoor sanctuary space with a rabbi on the bimah at the front and showing the backs of the heads of campers with their arms around one another

When you think back on your life, how has it been informed or influenced by Reform Jewish practice, experiences, and community?

Elena Paull
The backs of two teen boys facing away from the camera with their arms around one another as in friendship

The madrichim are authority figures, to be sure, but their task pales in comparison to the army. It’s a huge cultural shift

Rabbi David Cohen
Preteen boys playing basketball on an indoor court

Now a Jewish professional, my basketball experiences were formative. Skills in motivation, mentoring, management, and interpersonal relationships cultivated on the court impact my Jewish work.

Aaron Selkow

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