04 Aug 2010


The Pepa and Rabbi Joseph Karasick Department of Synagogue Services of the Orthodox Union will be hosting a national Youth Professionals Conference on Sunday, August 22 at the Stamford Hilton in Connecticut. Top-quality resources and presenters will focus on strengthening the meaningful educational and spiritual experiences for youth, from tots to teens, in synagogues. The conference also allows exclusive networking opportunities with the Synagogue Services staff, NCSY staff, and other national youth directors.

Youth professionals will be in attendance from all across North America, including Toronto and Vancouver, Canada; San Antonio, TX; Los Angeles and Oakland, CA; Oak Park, MI; and Boca Raton, FL in addition to New York and New Jersey.

According to Rabbi Steven Burg, OU Managing Director and International Director of NCSY, “Very few synagogue youth directors serve the position full-time and may feel limited in their resources to network and develop programming devoted to quality Shabbat morning groups and other synagogue youth activities. The OU Department of Synagogue Services acts as the network for these professionals to share their best practices with each other, and to utilize their time most effectively and efficiently.”

“People’s connections to religion often stem from experiences they have in their youth,” declared Laya Pelzner, Associate Director of OU Synagogue Services. “Synagogue Services is the resource for synagogue youth professionals to improve their youth departments. Our ultimate goal is to help facilitate positive religious experiences for Jewish youth so that they will stay connected and inspired throughout their lives.”

In anticipation of this conference, the OU created an online survey for synagogue youth professionals to ascertain and assess the needs of youth departments throughout North America. The conference will address the most common needs that arose from the survey: marketing strategies, ask the experts, best practices, enlarging your youth programming, tots to teens programming, training youth group leaders, and working with synagogue and school leadership.

Speakers at this year’s conference will include:

• David Cutler, youth director at the Young Israel of Staten Island in New York for over 15 years;
• Rabbi Josh Broide, former youth director at the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida for over 10 years;
• Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, director and creator of WINGS: We Inspire New-Growth Synagogues, the new OU Synagogue Services Consulting Initiative
• Rabbi Eli Ciner, assistant principal at The Frisch School in Paramus, NJ;
• Rabbi Chaim Hagler, principal at Yeshivat Noam in Bergenfield, NJ.

“The collaborative energy and excitement has brought forth many great ideas, which will provide resources and networking tools to bring youth departments across America to the next level,” declared Penny Pazornick, conference organizer and Project Coordinator of the OU Department of Synagogue Services.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to network and give youth directors the best tools to improve our programs,” declared Rabbi Broide, former youth director of the Boca Raton Synagogue, which has one of the largest and most dynamic synagogue youth departments.

To register or for further questions, contact the OU Department of Synagogue Services at synagogue@ou.org or call 212.613.8149.