This week fourteen Reform congregations across North America were selected to participate in an innovative pilot program to more fully engage families, institute new methods of teaching and keep teens and their families engaged in their communities. With seed funding from the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution, a joint initiative of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Hebrew Union College, these congregations will pave the way for creating a community in which b’nai mitzvah are not seen as a graduation party.
“The dropout rates post-b’nai mitzvah in the vast majority of congregations are staggering. Approximately 50% of Reform Jewish teens return to congregational life after b’nai mitzvah and about 20% stay beyond 10th grade,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “We cannot afford – on any level – to allow our teens to leave our Jewish institutions just as they are entering critical identity-making years.” We require no less than a revolution to change these statistics. As part of the Reform Movement’s Campaign for Youth Engagement, the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution initiative aims to empower synagogues to improve the quality of Jewish education and provide depth and meaning to Jewish learning for teens and their parents.”