Youth Programming

Youth and young families are a large part of Kehillat Beth Israel! Join Cantor Green (our Youth Director), Rabbi Kenter, and other staff and volunteers for engaging and fun family programs. Our programs are for kids and families of all ages and stages. KBI’s Youth and Young Families programming is a great way to get involved in the community and make lasting memories. Our goal is to help our tiniest kids grow and connect to their Judaism, flourishing on a steady path through our youth program into full-fledged leaders in the Jewish community.

What’s coming up?

Note that the calendar of events for 2023 and for Chaverim (Gr. K-4) will be updated over the course of the summer and as we plan more details.

Overview of our Youth Program

Click a link below to jump to a specific section:

Tots & Young Families (Ages 0-5 and their families)

Our youngest members and their parents are warmly invited to participate in a host of activities, services, virtual offerings, and more. Please visit our Family Engagement page for all the info.

Chaverim (Grades K-4)

We’re pretty BIG on “small ones” at KBI! Programming for Chaverim includes both parent-participation events as well as drop-off happenings (or have parallel parent socializing opportunities). This is a great way for our youth to start finding their independence and developing their own Jewish identities while getting involved in a fun way. In the past, they’ve enjoyed trips to Laser Quest or Merivale Bowling Lanes, eating ice cream sundaes together, joining our Youth Engagement Professional for games and crafts, or joining us for our annual Chocolate Seder!

USY – United Synagogue Youth

USY is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s Youth Movement. For more than 60 years, USY (and its middle school counterpart, Kadima) has taught young Jews the values and skills they need to become exceptional leaders in their religious and secular communities. Through year-round programming and domestic and international travel opportunities, USY inspires in teens a deep sense of pride and love for their Jewish identity.

Jews Across Canada’s Capital, United Synagogue Youth

Ottawa’s USY chapter is JACCUSY, proud members and Chapter of the Year 2019-2020 of the Eastern Canadian Region of USY (ECRUSY), which includes Toronto and the GTA, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Kingston, Montreal, and Halifax. JACCUSY is made up of Kadima (Grades 5-8) and USY (Grades 9-12). Our K’tanim program  (Grades K-4), graduates children into Kadima, where they begin the USY journey, participating in programming as well as taking active leadership roles on our JACCUSY Youth Board, and very often going on to leadership roles at the Regional USY level.  JACCUSY is particularly passionate about Social Action and Tikkun Olam (Repair of the World) and takes many opportunities to have fun together while being a “Light Unto the Nations”.

Gesher (Grades 5-8)

It’s what “comes before” USY! Programming is usually drop-off, and includes local activities with our Youth Engagement Professional and our Youth Director/Cantor. It is powered by our Youth Board, who come up with programs and projects and run them with the guidance of the staff. Starting in Gesher, kids help host and take part in local and regional Shabbatonim, Encampment, online educational programs, and conventions where they enjoy amazing times with their counterparts from the other chapters, participate in leadership exercises, ruach (spirit), chinuch (learning),  t’filah (prayer), and chofesh (relaxation). Gesher-ites officially hold paid memberships at the National level (though KBI subsidizes them), and there is a palpable sense of ownership, pride, and Jewish connection with something larger than the home chapter. As with all our youth levels, Gesher-ites ‘graduate’, becoming proud USYers.

USY (Grades 9-12)

USY doesn’t mean anything in Hebrew, but USY means a lot to our teens! Programming at this level is also driven by the JACCUSY board and supported by the Youth Engagement Professional and Youth Director. The president of JACCUSY and VP of SATO (Social Action and Tikkun Olam) come from the ranks of USYers. This age group takes a larger lead on organizing and running local and regional conventions (described above, under “Gesher”). USYers often act as madrichim (teen leaders or assistants) for Gesher, Chaverim, Kehillateinu!, and Tot programming at KBI. There are also expanded opportunities for prayer learning and leadership in the adult community guided by Cantor Green. Membership is required for participation in all conventions, as well as for gaining voting privileges for, and being elected to, ECRUSY (Regional) board positions. USYers proudly go on to become leaders, not just at the Regional, National, and International levels, but in the Jewish community in general. They are the future of Conservative Judaism!

Kehillateinu! – our Junior Congregation

“Kehillateinu!” is our monthly Junior Congregation service (for grades K-6), designed by our Cantor and led by our Youth Engagement Professional, volunteer parents and teen madrichim (guides/assistants). It is geared at developing skills and enthusiasm for the next level, joining in and leading our main prayer services.  Kehillateinu!

JTeen – our Jewish Teen Leadership Program

JTeen is our educational and leadership program for Jewish Ottawa teens, a collaboration including KBI, Or Haneshamah, and the Ottawa Talmud Torah. For more information, visit our JTeen page or email Rabbi Kenter, our JTeen coordinator.

B’nei Mitzvah Program

Celebrating a Bat or Bar Mitzvah in the next 2-3 years? Mazal tov! We are proud to help you make the occasion most enjoyable, meaningful, and memorable. For more information visit our B’nei Mitzvah page and connect with Cantor Green, our B’nei Mitzvah Program coordinator.

Governance

Our Youth Committee is made up of parents with kids in all the above age groups who are passionate about the Youth program at KBI. Its co-chairs are Jackie Luffman and Anne Read.

Our Youth Director is Cantor Jason Green. If you have any questions, concerns, ideas, or want to discuss anything confidentially with Cantor Green, please do reach out.