CBI Experience through informal education can provide life changing and life shaping outcomes. In addition, keeping our youth engaged in constructive activities and behaviors while providing safe, supervised activities will keep them on the right path in life.
Leadership opportunities empower young people to take on tasks and feel that they are contributing to the world and community. Doing this in a Jewish environment strengthens the chain of L’dor V’dor – from generation to generation. Congregation B’nai Israel’s youth department provides year-round programs for every age level and schedule.
School year programs are broken into K-3: Machar, 4-6: Kadima and 7-12: USY. Kadima and USY also have the opportunity to participate in regional and national programs. The Far West Region of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism incorporates multiple states including Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii and Southern California. Regional programs include weekend Kinnusim, USA summer trips, Israel trips and European trips.
CBI also offers a Little Shul program to the Orange County community. This “parent and me” participation program introduces children to the “BIG” Shul through stories, songs, crafts, snacks and activities. Little Shul requires no enrollment to attend – just an RSVP and minimum payment.
Camp Bnai Ruach is the youth department’s summer program. It includes five one-week sessions open to the community for those who have completed pre-school through 9th grade and has a camper, CIT, madrachim and counselor program. The camp visits local theme parks, beaches and museums and engages in crafts, sports, cooking and dancing.
What these programs provide that cannot be measured, is a safe, supervised and nurturing place for youth to grow and develop friendships and habits for a lifetime. Hundreds of kids come through the programs drastically different from when they entered.
The monthly Shabbat Club is designed to educate and inspire teens with real-life issues. Seudah Slishit allows them to discuss Torah with the rabbinic interns. Teens also slide on ice in tennis shoes with brooms as they enjoy a social night of broomball among friends.
There is a magic that happens in these programs, something not easily explained, but deeply felt and never forgotten. One USYer once summed it up best by saying, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it; from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”
SHM In November, we like to give thanks and bring life to the Jewish value of nedivut, generosity. In 2013, more than 60 Shir Ha-Ma’alot (SHM) teens took this value to a new level. In just one weekend, they collected more than 20 bags of clothing, shoes, blankets, medications and toiletries to donate to survivors of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. In addition, they collected soccer uniforms, balls and equipment to be donated to needy children around the world.
About 50 teens were expected at Rabbi Leah Lewis’ home for Shabbat. She left a small red tub by the front door, so people could drop off what they wanted. Within the first twenty minutes, a walkway had to be created between all the bags and boxes that had been dropped off, thanks to the dedication and generosity of the teens and their families.
The next night, SHMoFTY, the high school youth group, was holding its social action event for the year. Everyone was supposed to bring one soccer ball and a uniform to donate to Futbol 4 Dreams, an organization that collects soccer equipment for countries that cannot afford to provide new ones. Donations were being sent to India as well as an orphanage in Haiti. Twenty-six kids attended the event, and more than 150 uniforms, 60 balls and more than 15 boxes of equipment were donated. The car was overflowing! The teens spent some time learning about countries all around the world that value soccer as a symbol of friendship, peace and fun. They also worked together to decorate the balls and cones, so that those who receive them know that they were donated with love.
Seeing these teens do such wonderful mitzvot is so inspiring, and they were all moved by the action they took. Thank you to everyone who was able to donate. Without your generosity, many of the less fortunate would have been without warmth, health and fun during the holiday season.
For more information, contact Congregation B’nai Israel at (714) 730-9693 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’a lot at (949) 857-2226 or www.shmtemple.org.