EnerJew, the Jewish youth movement of the FSU, celebrated its 5th anniversary last week. Launched in 2014 with five cities and an idea of “changing the world”, the movement now amounts to 50 large cities across eight FSU countries, with over three thousand teens who have participated in its seminars, meetings, camps and programs.
“Five years ago there was this idea of developing programming for Jewish teenagers, who didn’t have much to do in the communities,” reflects EnerJew director Konstantin Shulman. “This is the most sensitive and vulnerable age in a person’s development, when proper influences and role models are especially important. We wanted these kids to grow up to become the stronghold of Jewish communities in their countries. After a half-year pilot it was clear that the project was much-needed and highly demanded. Now we are fully present on the map, while our sub-programs are also very successful – but it’s early for us to draw conclusions- we already have a development strategy for the next five years!”
EnerJew’s development is based on a clear structure: city clubs that meet every Sunday for learning, a volunteering program or a fun outing; Shabbaton seminars, when one or more clubs come together to spend Shabbat together while learning and bonding; and the more recently-added summer camps, where the entire movement gets together for an energizing one-of-a-kind vacation. EnerJew also has a Jewish informal education training program, the School of Marichim, which has been highly successful in preparing staff for its programs and partner projects. The project is led by professional mentors and Jewish educators.
“Being an EnerJew mentor gives the perfect opportunity to implement one’s ideas and it is especially rewarding since it also creates a framework for self-realization for other Jewish teen activists. We really get to see how our participants grow into example-worthy leaders!” said Rachel Virnik, one of EnerJew mentors.
“EnerJew will definitely change the world, “ said Michael Poliakov, EnerJew coordinator from Volgograd about his expectations for the next five years in the project.