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Midwest Engagers Convene in Detroit

Professionals Train to Ignite Programs & Ideas for Birthrighters

Contact: Jason Edelstein, (510) 239 – 1102

DETROIT, MI – Professionals from around the Midwest will gather June 24 to learn how to ignite young Jewish adults’ interest in local Jewish life. The conference, hosted by NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation, will convene a local contingent of the NEXTwork, the only national network of engagement professionals and leaders—“engagers”— who work directly with Birthright Israel alumni and young Jewish adults across the country.

“We are incredibly excited to host this convening in Detroit, a city that is a model for vibrant rebirth and activity both in the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds,” says Morlie Levin CEO of NEXT. “NEXTGen Detroit shows how a city can connect to and engage young Jewish adults, and tap into the excitement created by the Birthright Israel experience.” 

For this convening, NEXT will bring together professionals and leaders from Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and Kentucky to strengthen the regional NEXTwork, and learn engagement strategies that will shape the Jewish journeys of thousands of Birthright Israel alumni and their peers. 

Based on meetings and conversations with engagers throughout the Midwest, NEXT identified a challenge: many engagers don’t have the resources to work with young Jewish adults to co-create programs that will attract them to Jewish life. The convening will directly address this by teaching strategies that will empower the Birthright Israel generation to generate authentic, meaningful Jewish experiences for themselves and their friends. 

“We understand that truly engaging young Jewish adults is about building a relationship with each individual, understanding and activating that person’s interests, and leveraging that individual’s network,” says Yoni Sarason, Senior Director of NEXT’s Midwest region. “Our convenings help each professional working with young adults to benefit from an expanded network, new and deeper knowledge, and tools they can take back to their work. We’ve seen the impact of these in-person gatherings and are excited to energize the field of engagement across the Midwest.”

By gathering the NEXTwork, NEXT offers professionals the unique opportunity to gain expertise from leaders in the field, and from fellow professionals who have already demonstrated successful models. These will be presented in a round of case studies, enabling professionals to speak openly about the challenges they encountered along the way.

“Hosting the convening in Detroit certainly is an opportunity to showcase what we’ve created here—a thriving young adult Jewish community,” says Tara Forman, the Outreach and Engagement Associate at NEXTGen, a department of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. “Of course every city is different, but we think that some of the strategies that have worked here certainly translate to other communities as well. The benefit of the NEXTwork is the opportunity to come together, share what we know across the region, and think creatively about what else can be done.”

The Midwest Convening is part of NEXT’s strategy to consult with communities and leaders to create more and relevant opportunities for Birthright Israel alumni and young Jewish adults. This includes sharing information about national young adult engagement trends; best practices for creating programs and do-it-yourself opportunities for Birthrighters; teaching the principles that undergird the successful Taglit-Birthright Israel educational platform; and census-like data about young Jewish adults in communities. Over the past two years, The NEXTwork has grown to more than 250 individuals across the country, representing 160 diverse organizations.

Adds Levin, “It will take numerous organizations working together strategically to engage the nearly 265,000 U.S. Birthrighters. If we do this effectively, we have the opportunity to help create dynamic Jewish communities across the country, infused with the creativity and passion of young adults.” 

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NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation helps turn ten day trips to Israel into lifelong Jewish journeys. Building on the Birthright Israel experience, NEXT empowers communities, professionals, and Birthrighters themselves to create meaningful Jewish experiences for young adults.