Posted on February 18th, 2016

350 Jewish Educators Gather for Yom Iyun

On Monday, February 8, more than 350 Jewish educators gathered at 17 sites across North America to begin a conversation on Youth and Adolescent Mental Health (the 18th site, Boston, has had to postpone their event because of snow!). The format of this year’s Annual Gathering was unique in that it enabled educators to spend time with their local and regional colleagues while also sharing a sense of connection with educators thousands of miles away, studying the same theme.

The program was anchored by a keynote address by Dr. Betsy Stone, sponsored by the CCAR Press. Dr. Stone taught from her “home base” at the HUC-New York campus, supported by the department of distance learning, and all of the sites were able to watch her presentation and join in with questions and comments. Dr. Stone’s lecture, “Teen Angst or Mental Illness?” is now available on the ARJE website, along with the accompanying slides.

In addition to the keynote address, each site also welcomed a local speaker to address specific issues that our communities face. For example, participants in Princeton, NJ, spoke with Linda Meisel, the Executive Director of Jewish & Family Children’s Services of Greater Mercer County, about “The Stress of Being a Teen – And Parenting One: a look at what is happening in our Community and Resources for Assistance.”

Because our Annual Gatherings also have the goals of connecting educators with the ARJE and building relationships with each other, the program was designed to share some common elements to create a unified experience. Each site included aspects of team-building, tefillah, and text study, designed by members of the overall Yom Iyun committee and led locally by different volunteers at each site.

This is the first time that we have experimented with this model, and we are very interested in feedback from participants as well as ideas about next steps.