The Covenant Grants

Youth Professional Training Initiative

Organization: Union for Reform Judaism, New York, NY

Grant Year: 2016

Project Director: Michelle Shapiro Abraham

Type of Grant: Signature

Grant Amount: $141,000 (3 years)


The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) established a one-year Fellowship for entry level youth professionals (those in their first or second year of work in the field). The program is based on a successful pilot begun in early 2016. The expanded program  combines in-person and online learning with one-on-one mentorship. URJ partnered with HUC-JIR to plan and implement this program. The Fellowship began in September 2017 with a three-day in-person gathering and continued with monthly webinars during which participants learn together and think collaboratively about how to apply their learning to their work. URJ also recruited a cohort of mentors comprised of experienced, expert practitioners to both serve as faculty for the Fellowship and to work one-on-one with each of the fellows. In advance of the launch, the Program Director worked with the mentors to solidify a curriculum for the year-long Fellowship.

The opening, in-person gathering afforded the mentors and fellows an opportunity to learn together from teachers and experts in the field. The key elements of the gathering were building the cohort and forging relationships, identifying key areas for learning for each fellow, and clarifying expectations for the Fellowship year. 

Following the in-person gathering, the fellows participated in monthly webinars, covering a wide variety of topics, including: peer-to-peer engagement, evaluation and assessment, Jewish texts, adolescent development, partnering with teens, Israel, and best practices for working within a congregational environment. 

The fellows also take part in one-on-one meetings with their mentors each month. The mentors convene four times over the course of the year to discuss the progress of the fellows and strategies to help them apply their learning to their practice. 

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