Youth and Teen Programming

Ongoing teen programs at the synagogue:

Madrichim Program

The Hebrew word madrich means leader or counselor.  It is derived from the word derech, which means path or way.  At University Synagogue, our post b’nei mitzvah students have the opportunity to learn about leadership as they guide younger students along their Jewish educational path.  Madrichim at University Synagogue can work with specific grades, specialists, or in the Education Office.  In addition to “classroom time,” Madrichim will have an orientation and five meetings throughout the year to reflect on their work experiences, and learn Jewish lessons of leadership.  If you have a 9-12th grader who is interested in becoming a madrich, please contact the director ASAP. (jdowney@unisyn.org or 310.472.1255)

8th grade Leadership Track

On Sunday mornings, 8th graders will come and spend time in the Religious School engaging in hands-on active leadership training. The morning will be spent in two different capacities: they will spend time doing leadership activities, games, discussions and role play scenarios. They will learn skills such as conflict resolution, balance, and stress management. The other part of the morning will be spent actually IN a Religious School classroom where they will assist teachers, lead activities and get to put some of these skills to the test.

This program is designed to get students ready for the Madrichim program which begins in 9th grade. If you have an 8th grader who would like to be involved please contact the Director.

Twinning Program for 8th graders

We are thrilled to introduce a new program to our eighth grade families this year. University Synagogue is participating in the Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/Los Angeles School Twinning Program, the only initiative in existence that connects schools in Los Angeles with schools in Tel Aviv. This powerful program has supported 60,000 students, parents, and faculty through jointly prepared curricula, teacher training, and delegation exchanges.

Middle school students from Los Angeles travel to Tel Aviv and students from Tel Aviv come to Los Angeles. Visiting students live with a host family and study history, literature, language, pluralistic Judaism, Zionism, and the sciences at their partner school. The cultural and educational exchange between students transforms school cultures, transcends the distance between Israel and L.A., and creates a shared Jewish identity and destiny.

There are currently 19 schools in Los Angeles, 19 in Tel Aviv, and one in the Baltics that are part of the program. This year, University Synagogue is joining a Los Angeles cluster with Temple Isaiah and Leo Baeck Temple, and together, we will be partnering with Ironi Yud Daled School in Tel Aviv. This cluster program is the embodiment of the Twinning Program’s ultimate goal: creating relationships and uniting Jewish communities around the world.

JR UNITY

JR UNITY is our junior youth group for 6th-8th graders. JR UNITY is an opportunity for middle-school students to spend time together socially and to make our world a better place. JR UNITY is open to all 6th-8th grade students - there is no fee to join. Come to one of our events and let us know what you want to do this year!  Calendar available in September.

UNITY

Our Synagogue’s Senior Youth Group (9th-12th grade) is complete with a dynamic leadership team and enthusiastic members who are seeking to create fun and exciting programs for the synagogue youth.  From Havdalah on the beach, creative Shabbat services, laser tag and sleep over, regional wide weekend events at Camp Hess Kramer to a limo scavenger hunt around Los Angeles, UNITY covers all of your social, cultural and religious needs.  UNITY also takes social action seriously as we are creating opportunities to help clean up the environment and fight the genocide in Sudan.  Come join UNITY and be a part of life-changing group.  Calendar available in September.

Outside of the synagogue:

URJ Camp Newman

Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) camping institute has provided a positive reinforcement for Jewish growth and development. The creation of a Jewish living experience in a natural community setting has touched the minds, spirits and souls of several generations.  The moment campers reach our gates, they enter a very special world where everyone feels a sense of connection, community and mishpachah (family). The individual spirit is nourished in a physically, psychologically and emotionally safe environment. This unique setting, combined with fun, friendships and a lifetime of positive memories, enables us to foster Judaism in a magnificent manner: which has inspired hundreds of young people to become Rabbis, Educators, Cantors, Jewish professionals and lay leaders in Congregations and Jewish organizations.  See http://www.campnewmanswig.org/index.asp for more information.  Scholarships are available – speak to the director privately.

URJ Mitzvah Corps

Mitzvah Corps connects Jewish teens with immersive social action opportunities across North America, Central America, and Israel. Alongside a group of committed peers and our dedicated staff, volunteer with grassroots organizations that provide participants with unique hands-on experiences and a deeper understanding of the major issues facing their communities. Spend your summer building lifelong relationships while obtaining the skills to play an active role in making our world a better place. If you want to make a difference, Mitzvah Corps wants you! Visit http://www.mitzvahcorps.org/ for more information. Scholarships available – please speak with the director.

March of the Living

March of the Living is an international educational program that brings Jewish teens from all over the world to Poland on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), to march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during World War II, and then to Israel to observe Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day) and Yom Ha'Atzma’ut (Israel Independence Day). The goal of the March of the Living is for these young people to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and to lead the Jewish people into the future vowing Never Again.  Each year the Los Angeles Bureau for Jewish Education sends a special delegation of Los Angeles high school students on this powerful trip.  The University Synagogue Sisterhood offers a special scholarship for this program.  Keep your eyes open for more information as it becomes available.  See http://www.motl.org/ for more information.

NFTY in Israel – Summer Trips

Hike, climb, discover, and explore with new friends from across the continent. Return home with endless personal accomplishments, meaningful memories and stories you'll never forget.  For 50 years, thousands of families have chosen NFTY for more than a promise of a thrilling summer. NFTY programs have transformed more than 27,000 young people by turning a spark of interest into a summer of exciting challenges, wonderful new friends, and a lifelong involvement with Judaism.  More than 350 synagogues, 19 youth regions, numerous Jewish camps, Jewish Federations and communities annually turn to NFTY to provide the ultimate teen travel experience.  Each bar/bat mitzvah student at University Synagogue will receive a $250 gift certificate for this program.  See http://www.nftyisrael.org/summer/ for more information.  Scholarships are available – speak to the director privately.

Eisendrath International Exchange (EIE) – NFTY High School in Israel

For the Reform teen looking for the ultimate in life experience, the Eisendrath International Exchange High School in Israel is the time of a lifetime. For over 40 years, the Reform Movement has been sending youth to Israel, with this four-month accredited high school nestled in the Judean mountains serving as the premiere program. Our students live together, learn together and grow together as a community while they explore four thousand years of Jewish history, learn Hebrew, and come to know Israel as their second home. Go on EIE and hook up with your history, your land and your people!  See http://www.nftyisrael.org/eie/ for more information.  Scholarships are available – speak to the director privately.