Rabbi Steven Weil

Youth Summit on the West Coast

March 24, 2011

Shortly before Purim, the Synagogue Services department of the OU held another successful youth professionals summit, this time in Los Angeles. This event presented a tremendous opportunity for youth workers from LA to San Diego to get together, network and learn from one another.

Presentations included a session on How Shuls, Schools and Youth Programs Can Work Together, jointly presented by Rabbi Uri Pilichowski (Youth Director at Beth Jacob Synagogue), Rabbi Arye Sufrin (Student Activites Coordinator at the YULA Boys’ High School) and Rabbi Effie Goldberg (Regional Director, West Coast NCSY). Other sessions included Legal Responsibilities and Liabilities of Youth Work with Michael C. Blacher, a labor lawyer who works with the BJE, and a keynote address from OU Executive Vice President Emeritus Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb.

This event brought together a wide variety of stakeholders in shul youth programming, including rabbis, presidents, youth leaders, youth directors, youth chairs and board members. OU leaders were likewise in attendance, including Dr. Steve Tabak, Chairman ofOU West Coast, who introduced Mr. Blacher. While a Synagogue Services initiative, the program represents an interdepartmental effort with input from OU West CoastNCSY,Yachad and others as participants and presenters.

Some comments from among the feedback received include:

* Thank you so much for your insight in running youth groups.

* I definitely picked up more tips than I thought I would get and hope to use many of them

* What I really liked best was being able to meet other youth leaders within the community and hear about their programming.

* I have already implemented some of the ideas such as rewarding volunteers in employee of the month style.

* One of the most worthwhile Sundays I had this year.

The summit was run by Synagogue Services Project Coordinator Penny Pazornick, whose work includes building the Youth Professionals Network. It was facilitated by Rabbi Adir Posy, Assistant Director of Community and Synagogue Services for the Orthodox Union’s West Coast division. I thank them and everyone else who contributed towards making this event a success.