Category Archives: youth group

Interfaith Teen Gathering – Responses Requested

Dear CBI members and friends,

There are plans in the works for a Northern Berkshire Interfaith Youth Group for teens in 9th through 12th grades. This initiative arose in our local Christian community, and they reached out to us to affirm that they want to make the youth group comfortable, welcoming, and appropriate for Jewish teens as well as Christian ones. Here’s the description:

“A gathering of teens of faith who want to support and encourage one another while exploring life’s questions and discerning what actions we’re being called to take. We will provide a fun, engaging, open and affirming space and see where the discussion leads!”

As of now, this project involves leadership from All Saints’ Episcopal North Adams, Congregation Beth Israel North Adams, First Congregational Church Williamstown, our local Muslim community, New Hope Methodist Church North Adams, Second Congregational Church Williamstown, and St. John’s Episcopal Williamstown.

The intention is to begin to provide high schoolers with regular opportunities to gather 1x per month. And the hope is that this will primarily function as a teen-guided Interfaith group, with adults supporting by managing logistics and food and so on. In other words: the teens themselves will set the agenda and determine what they want the group to be and to do.

College students from the Jewish and Muslim communities at Williams are excited about serving as facilitators and mentors to our teenagers.

The group is considering meeting on Friday nights (with pizza), Saturday early afternoons (with snacks), Saturday later afternoons (with pizza), or Saturday nights (with pizza).  If you have a teenager in your household who is between ninth and twelfth grades, we’d love to know a) whether your kid is interested in taking part in something like this and b) if so, which of the possible meeting times would be best. Let me know?

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel


A social action program for western Massachusetts Jewish teens

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

I just received an invitation for teen members of the CBI community to attend a workshop put on by the Temple Israel Greenfield Hebrew School and the Greenfield Chapter of Hadassah.

On Jan. 6, 12:30-2:30, Temple Israel will be hosting a workshop called:

Social Justice and Jewish Ethics:
What was the Kosher Meat Boycott and What Does It Have to Do with Me?

It’s free and open to any interested teens, regardless of affiliation or level of Jewish education. (Also regardless of whether or not the teen has ever kept kosher!) They will do some interactive exploration of ideas about work and time related to the Labor Movement, learn some American Jewish history together, and read selections from sacred texts which help to provide the backbone of the Jewish ethics related to specific historic events and the Jewish participation in them. They will then study and discuss contemporary events, and will brainstorm possible projects stemming from the teens’ interests.

This is an opportunity for western Massachusetts Jewish teens to meet each other and study and discuss these issues together. It’s a chance for these teens to meet one another and to talk about important issues which matter to them. And it’s also an opportunity for them to develop their ideas and understanding of shared community ethics, and to think about what they can do to make the world a better place.

This program is ideal for teens post bar and bat mitzvah who are looking to expand their interest in tzedakah (righteous giving) and tikkun olam (healing the world). I think it’s appropriate for those who are becoming b’nei mitzvah this year, too.

This will be the first in a series of social justice workshops where teens will have the opportunity to study American Jewish history in social activism, and then to look at what interests them today and what are related problems they would like to tackle.

I would love for some of CBI’s kids to attend. I’ve sent a flyer to the parents of our teens — if you didn’t receive it, let me know and I will send you another! Please share this with your child(ren) and consider whether they might be willing and able to attend. We can arrange carpooling if that’s helpful.

Many blessings to all,
Reb Rachel

Announcing the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Youth Group

Dear friends,

I’m writing to let you know about a new initiative which is happening in northern Berkshire county — the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Youth Group.

We are a small community and it can be difficult to muster enough critical mass to have a really active youth group. It turns out that many area churches are in a similar position. A group of local clergy (including me) has been meeting for a few months to brainstorm ideas for a joint youth group which we could do together.

This group is explicitly inter-faith and is open to kids of all faiths (and none.) There will be no proselytizing, period. The group is designed to be a safe space where kids in grades 7-12 can come together, discuss issues of faith and doubt, learn about one anothers’ traditions, do meaningful community service work, form friendships, and generally be part of a supportive community.

The launch party will be held at St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary in North Adams at 6pm on Sunday, February 12. There will be some icebreakers and then a chance for kids to brainstorm together about what they want this youth group to be and do — while parents are hanging out together in a different room, doing their own learning and talking about what they hope this group might provide. We’re hoping to have an interfaith seder at CBI in April as the youth group’s second event.  A flyer is attached.

I hope that some CBI kids will choose to participate! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me. And if your child is interested in attending, please call Pat Kriss at 413-664-0386 to let her know.

If you’d like to learn more, you can download the flyer for the launch party: InterfaithYouthGroupFlyer

Thanks and take care,

Reb Rachel