National Leaders in Informal Jewish Education to Gather

More than 50 national leaders in Jewish education will headline NCSY’s Inaugural Youth Con on August 21st. The program will address the opportunities and challenges of Jewish Youth in the 21st century.

YouthCon will consist of workshop sessions throughout the day, during which participants will be given six different track options to hear from leading speakers in various fields. The full schedule can be read at The website also includes a blog which features various questions and answers posed to presenters of the day.

Presenters include:

  • David Bryfman, Director, New Center for Collaborative Leadership at The Jewish Education Project: educational consultant;
  • Robyn Faintich, Executive Education Consultant, JewishGPS: Her communal professional experience includes youth movements and community teen initiatives, early childhood education, congregational family education, and adult education;
  • Aliza Goodman, Director, MZ Teen Israel Internship, iCenter: She develops and manages a new national leadership program for Jewish teens returning from summer Israel experiences;
  • Charles Harary, OU National Vice President, and Founder, Milvado, an organization promoting innovative methods of teaching spirituality in a relevant and modern ways;
  • Sarah Lefton, Founding Executive Director, She combines a fusion of a publishing career and a passion for Jewish community building;
  • Rabbi Avi Orlow, Jewish Education Specialist, Foundation for Jewish Camp: He spent many years as an educator at Ramah Camps in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and YUSSR camps in the Former Soviet Union;
  • Lori Palatnik, Founding Director, The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project: She is a highly sought-after speaker author, media personality and Jewish educator;
  • Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, Senior Rabbi, Riverdale Jewish Center: Under his leadership the RJC has become the largest ‘teaching synagogue’ in the country, through its rabbinic and pre-rabbinic internship programs.

Organizations represented at YouthCon will include: AIPAC; American Jewish World Service (AJWS); BBYO; Camp Stone; Chabad International;; Harvard JLIC; Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Life on Campus; Jewish Teen Funders Network; JTA Jewish News Archive; J-Teen Leadership; Lauder Yeshurun Foundation; MASA; NECHAMA Jewish Response to Disaster; NextGen Charity; NFTY; Ramaz; Sid Jacobson JCC; Stand With Us; Teva Learning Center; The David Project; The Foundation for Jewish Camp; The iCenter; UJA-Federation of New York; URJ Camp Kutz; Yeshiva University; and Young Judea.

For further information, or to register, contact or go to

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  1. says

    A response to the previous/first comment- which said
    “It’s a con alright. A kiruv con.”
    That’s so off-base.
    Even when the Orthodox NCSY run an event and include non-Orthodox groups such as NFTY, BBYO, Young Judaea, JCC etc etc. they are still accused of “a Kiruv con”.
    Some people are SO into Orthodox bashing.
    So sad to see this before Tisha B’Av – a reminder that there is still causless hatred between Jews.
    PS for the record- i really can’t stand to hear non-Orthodox Jews talk about “Orthodox triumphalism” in the fact that the Orthodox are doubling in numbers while the non-Orthodox Jews in the States are rapidly shrinking. I live in an Orthodox community and i hear all the time the great concern for the assimilation of American Jewry. Far from being “triumphant” Orthodox are far more concerned, pay more of their resources to prevent assimilation and are more acutely pained by intermarriage than the non-Orthodox. The Orthodox (Chabad NCSY AISH and many many people and programs are doing a tremendous amount to prevent assimilation.) In all my years living in an Orthodox community I never heard any Orthodox Jew sounding “triumphant” about the demographic meltdown affecting the non-Orthodox. Something to consider.

  2. says

    “Even when the Orthodox NCSY run an event and include non-Orthodox groups such as NFTY, BBYO, Young Judaea, JCC etc etc. they are still accused of “a Kiruv con”.”

    In the Liberal and public school space (WHY is NCSY allowed there?!?) NCSY includes BBYO, and to a much lesser extent, Liberal groups. Because for the sake of “pakuach nefesh,” saving a life, which for the Kiruvnik means making kids Orthodox, deception and working with unkosher (Liberal) groups is permitted.

    But once inside NCSY proper, the pluralistic front is dropped, and NCSY works hard to recruit these underage teens to even hardline haredi institutions like Ohr Somayach, Neve Yerushalayim, and other fundamentalist institutions.

    Look how they brag about it to their own members:

  3. DS says

    NCSY’s “informal educators” routinely brag about getting students to postpone or to forgo all-together attending top-notch universities to instead become unemployable charity cases and Israeli tax burdens. NCSY educators also routinely tell Jewish children that their non-Jewish friends are really antisemites in disguise. By endorsing this event, mainstream Jewish organizations are conferring legitimacy on this movement to turn back the clock on Jewish progress and to re-shtetlize world Jewry.

  4. Jonathan Stone says

    DK – I love that you’re bringing articles from 2005 to prove a point. Get over it.

  5. says

    Jonathan Stone,

    Nothing has changed. You want more recent proofs, though? You got it.

    Meet Rabbi Yaakov Glasser. NCSY’s new International Director of Education. He’s so chummy with Ohr Somayach, he caps public school teens to their recruiter.

    Here’s an example of how NCSY’s Cleveland branch is buddy-buddies with them, and leads to enlisting with one of the most haredi unit in Israel.

    Need more Jonathan? Why doesn’t NCSY stop playing pluralistic when they clearly harbor a haredi agenda for public school teens?

    And why should NCSY control the public school JSU board?

  6. Jonathan Stone says


    I totally hear what you’re saying. I think we’re in the same camp here. And I don’t know what DS is talking about. We’re allowed to hate Orthodox Jews – even when it doesn’t make sense. They’re so smelly – especially NCSY.

  7. says

    Jonathan Stone,

    Not wanting our underage teens to be deceptively recruited to Orthodoxy or haredism by Kiruvniks from our public school (!) is not “hateful.”

    Rather, the desire of the Kiruvnik to make every Jew equally or more Orthodox than himself is contemptuous.

    Playing the victim and insisting those who disagree with Kiruv’s goals are hateful in order to deflect criticism reveals you do not have coherent answers to my or DS’s contentions.

  8. Jonathan Stone says

    Instead of telling me what Youthcon is, why don’t you just go there and see for yourself. Judging by the speakers and topics, it seems like nothing you are talking about. But it seems from what you’re saying that you don’t actually care what they do. You just want them not to exist.

  9. says

    Judging by the speakers and topics, it seems like nothing you are talking about.

    No, judging by the speakers and topics, it is EXACTLY like I am talking about.

    Love this post:

    “1. Why did you decide to start your organization?
    I was raised with very negative ideas about Orthodox Jews despite having had almost no personal contact with them. The stereotypes and misconceptions I grew up with made me much less willing to explore Orthodox Judaism as a possible path in life. I realized a few years ago that the attitude I was raised with is prevelent among nearly all non-Orthodox Jews and that they are similarly impeded them from exploring Orthodoxy. It occurred to me that if someone would correct these myths and misconceptions though, more Jews would be willing to learn about Orthodox Judaism. With technology (YouTube videos and social media) being as it is today, anyone can put a message out there and if it’s compelling enough it will spread.”

    Who are you kidding, Jonathan? Why don’t you go back to your blog and write more nasty posts about how Liberal Jews are like Jews for Jesus, then come back here and act oh-so-sad that people are so very unfair to Big Kiruv.

  10. Jackerman says

    Don’t even bother with DK – reasoning isn’t one of his strong suits. This is coming from a guy that once put a pretend “hechsher” on a can on Zyklon B and posted it to his website for laughs.

  11. says

    Hey Jackerman, for the sake of the readers, why don’t you answer any of the issues I raised instead of smearing from a position of anonymity?

    Instead of telling readers how there “isn’t any reasoning” with those who resent your unwanted, deceptive advances towards our underage public school teens, through the JSU, Latte and Learning, and “JSU” private labeled NCSY trips as entry points replete with hidden recruitment trips to Aish, explain how I am wrong about any of it?

    Alternatively, Kiruvniks, in the off chance that you can’t refute ANY of my points, feel free to keep smearing from an anonymous position.

    Maybe no one will notice you have no answers.

  12. says

    One more point. The real problem is not the Kiruvniks. Orthodox Union staff are doing what Orthodox Union staff are supposed to do: deceptively promoting Orthodoxy, especially right-wing Orthodox and even haredism (for the newbies, not for their own already Orthodox — their parents wouldn’t allow it).

    The real problem are those who are supposed to be protecting our teens from these deceptive predators.

    Instead, they “partner” with them.

    Instead, large swaths of the Organized Jewish community, including supposedly Liberal Jewish groups arm, fund, and enable these Kiruvniks to take our teens away from our paradigm to be second class citizens in theirs.

  13. Jonathan Stone says

    When was the last time you spoke to a Jewish teen? You’re insulting their intelligence.

  14. says

    I apologize for entering the conversation late. I have been on the road for 8 days working with clients – Shevet: The Jewish Family Education Consortium running a national, pluralistic conference on Family Education and am still in Chicago doing work with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) which is launching a movement-wide Campaign for Youth Engagement. As the second person listed in the article, I feel the need to participate in the dialogue.

    A few months ago, I was asked to come be a part of (and present a session at) a new experiment in partnership – sponsored by NCSY – to provide high-quality professional development and networking for informal/experience-based youth professionals across the country. This perfectly aligns with a project I am doing with Bar Ilan University and the Jim Joseph Foundation in a two-year fellowship in which I am a part (along with co-facilitator Sid Singer – CJFE Chicago).

    Our project leadership team (with representation from BBYO, USY, NFTY, NAACCHHS and JSU) just launched an on-line community of practice (CoP) called the Kehillah Co-Operative ( which serves as a national on-line platform for teen educators to network, collaborate, share resources, and obtain professional development. It seemed a perfect opportunity to participate in YouthCon where I will have the opportunity to partner with another youth movement to raise the level of professionalism in the field. I am incredibly unnerved at the assertion that YouthCon is solely about Orthodox Kiruv. While kiruv is a valid value of a movement in the work it does, YouthCon represents other values … that of professionalization of the field, partnership, and education.

    In related concerns I have about this dialogue, it is important to address the JSU comments as well. I have spent the last 9 years of my career working in pluralistic environments (prior to that 7 years in Conservative movement congregations) where I recognize that the exact differences that divide us as individual observing Jews can be used to bring us together as an entire Jewish community of professionals and leadership. One of the joys of my current stage of my career is serving as a board committee member for the new construct of JSU. The future of JSU, funded by Jim Joseph Foundation and other donors, encapsulates that exact belief: that the rich diversity that represents our individual Judaism can be capitalized on to create a vibrant Jewish community for teens – in the place where they are – in schools.

    What resonates for me in this entire dialogue is that people aren’t putting our Jewish communal teens as the priority – they seem to be putting their own agenda, their own biases, their own fears as the forefront. Words can be powerful and I can only imagine if the energy put into this negative rhetoric were put into advocacy for more professional development for Jewish teen educators and put into advocacy for more partnership and collaboration – then we could do exponentially good work.