Molly Okun, Temple Sinai’s youth director, attended the 2015 URJ Biennial in Orlando from Nov. 4 to 8 with close friends Bryan Kellert and Ezra Flom.
NFTY advisers share thoughts on 2015 URJ biennial
The Union for Reform Judaism Biennial in Orlando placed a heavy emphasis on youth engagement with a full slate of workshops, meetings and a Youth Social Action Symposium designed to explore ways to engage the next generation of Jews.
In his address at the Thursday evening plenary session Nov. 5, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs spoke extensively about the importance of engaging youths through the rabbinic concept of tikkun olam and told the crowd that “millennials more than anything want to make a difference.”
Three Atlanta-area advisers for NFTY youth groups, Bryan Kellert, Ezra Flom and Molly Okun, were there to hear Jacobs’ speech and spent the weekend learning, networking and exploring new ways to get Jewish teens excited about Judaism.
Kellert, the youth engagement adviser at Temple Emanu-El, attended his first biennial with a delegation from his Sandy Springs congregation that included Rabbi Scott Colbert and Executive Director Mark Flaxer. He was joined by close friends Flom, the youth director of Temple Kol Emeth, and Okun, Temple Sinai’s youth director.
The trio gave their thoughts on the URJ Biennial and their congregations back in Atlanta.
“Millennials and this new age group, they want a sense of responsibility and they want to know what they do matters. When we are creating programs for our teen group, we want to make sure we are doing it with the intention that they are going to get something out of it,” Kellert said.
“It’s been incredibly inspiring to be here. A big takeaway for me is that we are all on the same team. When you have 5,000 Jews in one place, it’s just an incredibly empowering feeling,” Flom said.
“Mostly what I’ve gotten out of this biennial is how Temple Sinai is already ahead of the curve,” Okun said. “We are already practicing the things that people are talking about doing. It’s really nice and reaffirming the incredible things that I get to be a part of.”