The North Shore Jewish Center Youth Group
As the Youth Engagement Director at North Shore Jewish Center, I am always creating, planning, and running programs and events for all of our youth groups and USY programs. In other words, I get to hangout with all of our kids, teens, and have more fun than anyone else in the building!
In my four years at NSJC, I've learned so much about the families, the community, and Judaism. This experience has been valuable to me as my previous involvement in Judaism was mostly limited to religious school as a child, becoming a Bat Mitzvah, and playing in the Maccabi Games as a teenager. The NSJC community has tremendously patient, helpful, and encouraging of me as I continue my journey with Judaism.
Youth Group Schedule
4th/5th grade: Sunday evenings: 5:30-6:45pm
6th/7th grade: Sunday evenings: 7:00-8:15pm
8th/12th grade: Wednesdays: 7:00 to 8:30pm
Our youth groups are for kids in 4th-7th grades, in addition to our 8th-12th grade program, which is it's own chapter of United Synagogue Youth (USY). Each group meets weekly, and our programs consist of cooking, "DIY" projects, game nights/competitions, trivia, scavenger hunts, various arts and crafts projects, and when the weather is nice, we head outside for fun and games. When our youth group programs are at the synagogue, we meet in our Youth Lounge which is home to a ping pong table, air hockey, video games, foosball, and a variety of board games. Our Youth Lounge has comfortable seating (think couch, bean bags, and fuzzy chairs), a pantry for all of our snacks, and most importantly, the Youth Lounge is an inviting, supportive, and safe space for everyone.
Throughout the year, our Youth Group meets off-site for fun and exciting activities. In the past, these programs have included charter boat fishing, the Long Island Adventure Park, ice skating, SkyZone, going to the movies, and playing mini golf!
As our program runs September-June, we are often celebrating the different Jewish holidays together... Youth Group-style. I try to create fun and interactive celebrations for the different holidays: we make and bake our own hamentaschen for Purim, indulge in a Sweet-Tooth Seder for Passover, grate potatoes and fry homemade latkes at Chanukah... I'm sure you've noticed all of these are food-related. The best way to get to a child's heart is through their stomach!
I have been working with kids since I was 14 years old, and started working with teenagers when I was still one myself! I've been a counselor at day camps and travel camps, a lifeguard, I've coached high school level sports, I have worked as a college-process counselor, and currently, when I am not at NSJC, I am an educational advocate for students with disabilities who are involved in the Juvenile Justice System. I also facilitate self-advocacy training groups for teenagers with emotional and behavioral disabilities. All I have ever wanted to do is work with kids and teenagers...someone they can trust, someone who supports them, and someone who is always willing to have fun... and eat!
In all seriousness, I love the kids, teens, and families at North Shore Jewish Center and really do have a great time running our youth programs.
Contact Jen Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org