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A Thriving Youth and Teen Community

In addition to Kesher, our Jewish education program, Woodlands boasts a robust youth and family experience. Under the leadership of Sarah Canfield-Dafilou--our Director of Congregational Learning, Alex Shapiro--our full-time Director of Youth and Community Engagement, and our Youth and Family Engagement Committee, Woodlands runs youth programming for kids of all ages.

Our mission for youth engagement:

Woodlands Community Temple offers every temple child, teen and young adult the opportunity and resources to develop a comfortable and confident Jewish identity. 

We create a vibrant, inclusive, and supportive environment intended to engage, empower and reengage youth through every stage of their development.

Woodlands’ Youth Engagement programming provides experiences rooted in Jewish culture, ritual and values, with an emphasis on atzmeyut (individual identity), tzorchei tzibur (community involvement), and tikkun olam (repairing the world).

In a unique partnership, our layleaders and professional staff create experiences that bring different age groups together. For our pre-K through 6th grade families, we hold storytimes with Jewish children’s book authors, ice skating, rock climbing, Purim Carnivals, and concerts with Jewish musicians.

Our 3rd – 7th graders experience special, immersive events that help with community bonding. The 3rd/4th Grade Late Night at the temple is a highlight, as well as the 5th/6th grade yearly retreat where they get away for a weekend of bonding. The 7th graders follow a unique pre-B-Mitzvah curriculum called the Mitzvah Challenge, where, instead of putting together a specific mitzvah project, students spend the year learning about a variety of mitzvot and practicing these values.

Teen Engagement

We’re thrilled that the majority of our B’nai Mitzvah students continue on into our 8th-12th grade programs. In addition to our weekly Monday night Academy program, many apply for the chance to lead as a part of our WoodSY Youth Group Board. These teens plan monthly programming for our 8th-12th graders and serve as teen liaisons to the rest of the congregation. 

Other opportunities include our music programs, Madrichol program (teen aides in our early childhood to 6th grade classes), and other events.

We also offer trips that engage our teens in immersive experiences. 9th graders learn about healthy relationships on our yearly Sexuality Retreat. 10th-12th graders have the opportunity to travel to the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center in Washington DC to learn about the political process and about making their voices heard on issues of social justice. They also partake in our Civil Rights Journey to the south, where they walk in the footsteps of civil rights leaders, learning about the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and how it continues to inspire us today.

Because we miss them so much, we stay in touch with our college students through holiday gift packages and get-togethers over school breaks. Our clergy remain available to them and our whole community.

Questions? Contact our Director of Youth and Community Engagement (

Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784