NCSY YouthCon Returns 8/19: National Leaders in Informal Jewish Education to Gather

11 Jul 2012


YouthCon 2012 – the Second-Annual NCSY Convention on Informal Jewish Education – returns with a brand-new format and program Sunday, August 19 at the Stamford Hilton in Connecticut. A year ago, YouthCon drew an audience of 600 professionals and volunteers representing 150 organizations for a veritable carnival of new approaches for Jewish educators and lay leaders of all backgrounds.

Registration is currently underway on the YouthCon website,

NCSY | Jewish Youth Leadership is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union.

Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY and OU Managing Director, explained: “Informal Jewish experiences, from summer programs and camps, to after-school activities and youth groups, are essential to the development of a strong Jewish identity. As leaders in the greater Jewish community, we are responsible for providing quality Jewish experiences for today’s Jewish youth, and that demands that we convene a conference to address the hottest topics, trends, and tools to innovate the role informal Jewish education plays in the lives of our youth.”

Rabbi Burg continued, “YouthCon 2012 will be an exciting day of networking, professional development, and a celebration of the growing field of experiential Jewish education as we build on last year’s success.”

According to Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, YouthCon Program Director and NCSY Associate Director of Education, “YouthCon is a festival that will help leaders in the emerging field of experiential Jewish education to consider new ways to create engaging experiences for contemporary youth. While there are thankfully many conferences that focus on the content and pedagogy of formal education, Youthcon is uniquely designed as a conference in which the opportunities and struggles of creating meaningful Jewish experiences can be re-imagined and considered.”

YouthCon 2012 will focus on five areas: Digital Media; Social Action; Spirituality; Organizational Management; and On the Front Lines: Best Synagogue Youth Practices. Aside from the variety of topics that will be discussed, in order to accommodate the ways in which YouthCon participants learn, each topic will be presented in four distinct modes of presentation:

• 15 Minutes of Fame — Brief 15 minute multimedia presentations of a new idea or practice within the area of focus.

• Debating the Issues: Panel Session — This portion of the conference will assemble leaders within each field to discuss and debate the major issues facing the area of focus, to present a broad spectrum through which to confront the central issues of that area.

• Workshops – A leader in the field will impart latest practices, with attention given to ensure these sessions maximize practical and concrete tools.

• Brainstorming — An open agenda for participants to create their own conversations within their area of interest. The session will feature a moderator, but the goal of Brainstorming is to allow for informal networking and sharing for the conference participants.

According to Rina Emerson, Director of YouthCon and OU Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement, the program will feature a panel of Jewish leaders as they tackle the biggest issues and opportunities in the world of experiential Jewish education. The panel includes Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University; Ruth W. Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS); and Rabbi Shimon Waronker, Headmaster of The New American Academy and an educator profiled in The New York Times for his innovative approaches.

Another feature re-imagined for YouthCon 2012 is the “Service Center,” to feature one-on-one mentoring for practical consultations in key areas. The “Service Center” topics include Facebook and Twitter management; resumé writing; Inclusion programming for those with disabilities; and anti-bullying strategizing.

Jonah Halper, Founder of NextGen:Charity — a national conference on charity and foundation innovation — who attended last year’s conference and is scheduled to return for YouthCon 2012, said at last year’s event, “A good conference depends on who’s inside — and the audience at YouthCon is incredible. They’re innovative, they’re thinking in new ways, they’re learning from each other, and it’s inspiring — not just to be a presenter, but to learn a lot from the participants and what they are doing, what works. It’s a true privilege to be at YouthCon.”

For more information on YouthCon 2012, go to or contact Rina Emerson at 212.613.8110 or email {encode=”” title=””}.

OU | Enhancing Jewish Life