“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” 

– John Quincy Adams.

As the Director of Youth Engagement, I certainly see my role as one where I strive to inspire our youth to become future leaders at Temple Israel and in the Jewish community as a whole.  I truly enjoy working with the 7th through 12th graders to plan and chaperone exciting events, whether we are just having fun, leading services, planning large events or doing community service.

This past fall, I helped plan not one, but two rush programs. Each of the programs was a success with great numbers in attendance.  After some smaller programs, November became the next month to look at for planning to see if we could continue to engage our youth.

Junior Youth Group (JYG)

JYGBowlingV-Nov2014-14On Sunday November 9, 2014, Temple Israel’s JYG went to the V Bowling off of Oakview Drive.  Eleven of our 7th and 8th graders along with Maddee Rauhauser, Future Leader/Membership Vice President of OTYG came to the event.  While there, the teens bowled, mostly with bumpers and enjoyed a game of laser tag.  We also tried their pizza, which was better than anyone expected for a bowling alley.  The teens had a blast chatting with our server, Jacob, who photobombed the group picture! 

On December 23, 2014 from 1-3:30 p.m. JYG will have an opportunity to participate in community service activities at the Omaha Food Bank along with OTYG.  OTYG participated in a community wide high school event at the Food Bank this past year and the teens who attended truly enjoyed the event.  While some of the teens may be traveling over winter break, others will be around town and it will be a great opportunity for them to get some service learning hours or simply enjoy the mitzvah of helping others!  This event is open to all 7th to 12th graders who will be in town that day!

It was almost unanimously decided during the event at the V that the 7th and 8th graders want to go ice skating for their next event, which is scheduled for January 31, 2015.  So look for more details to come before then about the time, place, and hopefully some hot chocolate to enjoy while they take a break from the ice.  The teens are also in the process of designing a JYG sweatshirt to show their JYG spirit.

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” 

– Mary McLeod Bethune

Omaha Temple Youth Group (OTYG)


OTYG has been busy since the start of the school year.  The board members instituted a lounge night, once per month on Thursdays.  The number of people who come has varied but been considered a success.  We have had teens attend who may not have come to a big event.  Those who decide to come get to enjoy some snacks and usually laughs. 


On November 15, 2014, OTYG had a fall lock-in. Despite the snow-filled and sometimes icy weather, 22 teens attended the event.  The board members worked really hard to come up with fun, creative mixers and programs. As the Director, I found myself amazed at some of the ideas the leaders were able to come up with. Some of the highlights for me were “Project Runway – Nature’s Edition” which required the teens to use up to two white garbage bags, masking tape, and actual leaves and sticks from outside to create outfits for models who would then sashay down a makeshift runway.OTYGLockIn-Nov2014-5 Another program required the teens to create a made-up culture and then a food dish (mostly created from candy and other junk food) which represented their culture. The “judges” were very critical and inconsistent. The program ended with a discussion on judging other cultures and not accepting others for who they are and where they come from. The most enjoyed program was probably the program where the teens broke into groups and were given words and a time limit to list songs using those words. It was probably the only time during the evening where the teens happily put down their phones, to avoid cheating. Overall, the event was a great success. Those who came all have said what a great time they had and how they look forward to future events.

“The Jewish people, ever since David slew Goliath, have never considered youth as a barrier to leadership.”

– President John F. Kennedy


Right now, OTYG is busy planning the Spaghetti Dinner and Auction.  The event will take place on February 8, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  This year’s theme will be Swinging with OTYG, a jungle theme.OTYGRush-Aug2014-10

In addition, the teens are in the early stages for planning Spring Chavurah, which will take place from May 1-3, 2015, right here in Omaha.  200 teens will travel to Omaha from around the Missouri Valley Region.  OTYG is very excited to host this event in the new building.  OTYG leadership has a proposed theme and is looking forward to preparing for another successful Chavurah in Omaha.

Click here to look at photos from any of the events mentioned in this blog.