Congregation Beth Shalom has a long history of success in attracting high school students to continue with their involvement with the school/youth group. There are several elements that contribute to that success: the student’s desire to continue, parental support, and learner-directed programming. Many of the students have become friends over the years and may actually see each other outside of their CBS activities. However, when they come to CBS for youth group, this is their only time to be together with a group of high school students doing all things Jewish. This time stengthens their bonds to each other, their religion, and their community.
The URJ in 2012 launched a “Youth Engagement Program” recognizing the need to continue to keepJewish youth involved post Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The number of full time NFTY staff has been doubled along with more scholarships and camps. The movement encourages increased activity rather than sporadic activity post Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The less often you engage in something the less relevant it becomes in your life. The goal is to continue to make becoming a Jewish adult and active member of the community an important part of their high school years that will continue into adulthood. We ask for your support and encouragement for your high school student to participate in the high school programs.The Board strongly supports the involvement of your teen in youth group activities and will subsidize with part or full scholarship. The fees collected pay their regional membership to NFTY, advisor salaries, some subsidy for advisor travel, and food for the youth each Sunday.
There are additional advantages outside of the religion for keeping your child involved in the youth group. As a member of NFTY, they become members of a local, regional, and national organization. We are a small community so there are many opportunities for leadership roles. The membership activities and leadership positions outside of school are also important on college applications. We have had one student receive a significant scholarship during her college years because of her role in NFTY.
Our youth group plans a variety of activities that include educational programs and social action. The eductional programs are geared toward the high school learner. They have discussed topics of modesty, body ethics, alcohol and drugs, relationships, comparitive religion, death, and caring for animals from a Jewish perspective. They plan a social action project for the year, attend regional events, and can attend national events.