J Teen Connect

Several Care-A-Van participants take a quick break while doing cleanup on a Habitat for Humanity property in Durango, Colorado, last month.

It’s back-to-school time for Valley Jewish students, which means it’s also time to reconnect with various Jewish youth groups around the Valley.

Helping out in that effort is J Teen Connect AZ, a new grassroots initiative now housed by the Valley of the Sun JCC. J Teen Connect is aimed at increasing Jewish teen engagement by creating a central hub of information of all of the Jewish teen programs in the community. Along with a monthly newsletter, J Teen Connect AZ also has a Facebook group. Just search for J Teen Connect AZ and request an invite into the group to get the most up-to-date information on events and gatherings.

Among the groups you can find information on are:

NCSY — dedicated to connecting, inspiring and empowering Jewish teens, as well as encouraging passionate Judaism through Torah and tradition. Contact Shmuli Josephsen at shmuli@ncsy.org for more information.

NFTY — a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Temple Chai Temple Youth (TCTY) is for students in grades ninth through 12th. The group meets two to three times a month, participates in three Valleywide events and four regional events with NFTY Southwest.

USY — Conservative Judaism’s premier youth group linking Jewish teens to more than 10,000 USYers participating in 350 chapters in 16 regions across North America. Typically, local USY chapters meet on weekends.

BBYO — the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement. With a network of hundreds of chapters across North America and in 42 countries around the world, BBYO reaches more than 80,000 teens annually.

You can also find teen groups exclusively from the Valley through J Teen Connect AZ. Some examples include:

Hebrew High of Greater Phoenix — operated by the Bureau of Jewish Education, Hebrew High has been providing positive Jewish experiences for teens for more than 45 years. Hebrew High is the only program in the Valley for teens of all different affiliations from grades nine through 12 to learn together and regularly interact socially. Hebrew High also hosts the winter and summer Care-A-Van where teens travel to various locales to help charitable causes. Registration for the 2018-’19 school year is now open. For more information contact Myra Shindler at the BJE,

480-634-8050.

Tikkun Olam Together — an initiative of Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, it provides cultural learning and togetherness opportunities for mothers and daughters in sixth through ninth grade as they work to improve the world. Mothers and daughters engage in community service, leadership development and cultural experiences. For more information, contact Kelly Harris at tikkunolam@jewishphoenix.org.

Also coming online soon is Mitzvah Hub, a partnership between Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and Jewish Family & Children’s Service. When operational, it will make it much easier to find volunteer opportunities within the Jewish community for youngsters preparing for their bar and bat mitzvah projects. JN

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