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Derech: JRC’s Post B’nai Mitzvah Experience

Derech (pathway) is JRC’s teen community for grades 8-12. Derech is a welcoming and supportive Jewish community where teens are empowered as learners and leaders by one another and by caring, dedicated staff and clergy.

Derech provides many options for engagement and we encourage participants to choose their own pathway in JRC’s vibrant youth community and in the broader Jewish community.

The foundation of Derech is its multiple pathways for engagement. We know that today’s teens are busy, and so we designed our program with affinity-based groups that meet on different days and times throughout the week. Connect your interests to your Jewish identity and create a schedule that works for you and connects you with your friends.

Choose all the derachim (pathways) or just stick to one, but the choice is yours!

Choose Your Path(s), Find Your Way!

Your Interests. Your Schedule. Your Friends. Connect your interests to your Jewish identity, and create a schedule that works for you and connects with your friends and interests at JRC.

The foundation of Derech is its multiple pathways for engagement. We know that today’s teens are busy, and so we designed our program with affinity-based groups that meet on different days and times throughout the week. Connect your interests to your Jewish identity and create a schedule that works for you and connects you with your friends.

Choose all the derachim (pathways) or just stick to one, but the choice is yours! Please register for each path you’re wanting to participate in separately by clicking the registration link and filling out the Sign-Up Genius form. Please help us by registering by September 19th so that we can adequately plan for each track. It is okay to register for tracks where you can’t make every date, but for those wishing to participate in the Israel/Palestine tracks, we strongly encourage that you attend all 6 sessions because they build on one another.

Our Derech team is here to help each teen design the Jewish experience that will work best for them. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Rabbi David (, Morah Aviva Feldman ( and Moreh Sam Frolichstein-Appel ( to understand and discuss your options.

Reframing Israel/Palestine

In two cohorts, one for 8th – 10th graders, and one for 11th – 12th graders, our teens will engage with the Reframing Israel Curriculum, developed by Reconstructionist Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman. Reframing Israel inspires Jewish teens to learn about the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, ask challenging questions, develop a strong commitment to social justice and discover their unique voice.

Students signing up for this pathway are strongly encouraged to attend each session as the content builds.

This curriculum contains two main sections for students who are thirteen to eighteen years old:

  1. Exploring Israel—the Land, People, and State
  2. Understanding Tensions Between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians.

Dates are: All Sundays from 1-3pm

Cohort 1 for 8th – 10th grades: 10/03, 11/07, 12/12, 01/09, 02/06, 03/06

Cohort 2 for 11th – 12th grades: 10/24, 11/14, 12/19, 01/30, 02/13, 04/10, 05/01

Teen Chaggim Team

In these sessions, participants will join Rabbi David to both study the real stories and texts of the holidays, but also to plan teen and congregational youth holiday events, including a hanukkah celebration, Tu Bishvat seder, the Purim Carnival and a Passover seder! If you are interested in deepening your connection to the Jewish holidays through learning with your peers, and planning fun events for youth in the congregation, this is a path for you!

Thurs. 10/21 – Tu BiShvat Planning – 6:30 – 8:00pm
Thurs. 11/18 – Tu BiShvat Planning – 6:30 – 8:00pm
Thurs. 12/16 – Tu BiShvat / Purim Carnival Planning
Sun. 01/16 – Tu BiShvat Celebration for JRC time tbd
Thurs. 01/27 – Purim Carnival Planning – 6:30 – 8:00pm
Thurs. 02/10 – Purim Carnival Planning – 6:30 – 8:00pm
Thurs. 03/10 – Purim Carnival Set-up – 6:30 – 8:00pm
Sun. – 03/13 – Purim Carnival – 10am – 12:00pm
Thurs. 04/07 – Teen Seder Plan – 6:30 – 8:00pm
Sun. 04/17 – Teen Seder – 1 – 3:00pm

Global Jewish Cooking

Hone your cooking skills and explore Jewish culinary tradition (and eat what you make!) with your Derech friends. Our curriculum will be an exploration of Jewish dishes from around the world, primarily from Mizrahi and Sephardi communities. In each session, we will dive into a different Jewish culture and explore their cuisines and culinary traditions. Each session will combine cooking competitions with learning new dishes from around the world together.

Cooking Series on Global Jewish Cooking through the Haggim: 8th – 12th Grade
Saturday – 12/04 – Hanukkah – latkes or sufganiyot, bunuelos 6-8pm
Sunday – 01/16 – Teen Tu BiShvat Seder and Moroccan Dishes 1 – 3pm
Saturday- 03/12 – Kreplach and Hidden Foods in honor of Purim 6-8pm
Saturday – 04/23 – Mimouna Celebration – A North African end to Passover – 6-8pm
Saturday – 05/14 – Shavuot – All the Dairy; Syrian jibn and Hungarian paprika cheese spread – 6-8pm

Text Messages

Join Rabbi David in a special opportunity to explore Jewish texts in a deeply meaningful way that’s relevant to your day-to-day life. Each session will begin with a check-in, which will shape our text study through the big ideas or questions brought by the group. Together, you will discuss Jewish texts that will surprise, challenge, and inspire you. No prior knowledge or experience required, but please come prepared to enter a serious and sacred space!

Thurs. Oct. 14th – 4:00 – 5:00pm
Thurs. Nov. 11th – 4:00 – 5:00pm
Thurs. Dec. 9th – 4:00 – 5:00pm
Thurs. Jan. 13th – 4:00 – 5:00pm
Thurs. Feb. 10th – 4:00 – 5:00pm
Thurs. Mar. 3rd – 4:00 – 5:00pm
Thurs. Apr. 14th – 4:00 – 5:00pm
Thurs. May 12th – 4:00 – 5:00pm

Youth Kallah Planning Team

Our annual youth Kallah is entirely planned and run by our high school students! If you want to plan and implement JRC’s premier youth event, this is the track for you! Pick the theme, pick the menu, coordinate all of the fun!

Saturday night 11/06 – Kallah Planning session 1 – 6:30 – 8pm
Saturday night 12/11 – Kallah Planning session 2 – 6:30 – 8pm
Saturday night 01/08 – Kallah Planning session 3 – 6:30 – 8pm
Saturday night 02/05 – Kallah Planning session 4 – 6:30 – 8pm
Kallah – Presidents Day Weekend – Friday 02/18 @ 4pm – Sunday 04/20 @1pm

Rosh Hodesh/Shevet/Tzelem

JRC is proud to offer Moving Traditions Teen Groups ( —Rosh Hodesh for female identified, Shevet for male identified, and Tzelem for trans and nonbinary identified teens— use Jewish teachings and a gender lens to help them explore issues they care about most such as body image, social and academic pressure, and friendship, romance, and sexuality. These groups bring together 8th-12th graders through monthly meetings with a trained adult group leader to learn how to apply socio-emotional learning and Jewish wisdom to deal with the joys and challenges of adolescence.

Once we have 5 participants for Rosh Hodesh and Shevet respectively, we will offer these groups. Tzelem is not run by JRC, but is run locally as a partnership between synagogues so that the group can have adequate numbers. Signing up indicates your interest in participating in 1 session a month from Oct – May, for a total of 8 sessions.

Moving Traditions Tzelem Teen Group

Tzelem is run as a collaboration between many Chicagoland congregations, and JRC teens are invited to participate. Participation in Tzelem has an additional cost of $100.00 to hire a skilled, qualified, queer and Non-Binary facilitator to guide the teens. 

There are two Tzelem cohorts, one for Trans and non-binary teens and one for LGBTQ+ teens of any gender. If you are interested in either Tzelem track, please sign up and also consider attending “A Taste of Tzelem information session for teens and parents/guardians. Taking place on Sunday, September 19 7:30-8:30pm on Zoom. Come meet the trained adult group leaders and get to know the program that builds community, friendships and provides a safe place to be Jewish, queer and a teen

To sign up for the Taste of Tzelem session, please email 

To sign up for the full program, please register here:

Youth Group Events for 6th - 12th

Join your JRC friends for social events for youths in 6th – 12th grades. Our social events have included our annual Youth Kallah over President’s Day Weekend, ice skating with Cantor Howard, chopped cooking competitions, tikkun olam opportunities, and more! These events are the perfect opportunity to reconnect with friends, develop friendships started in the different derachim (pathways) and other programs, and meet new people in Derech!

Social Event Calendar – Open to 6th – 12th (subject to change)

  • Saturday 10/30 – Teen Movie Night/Halloween – 6-8pm
  • Saturday 11/13 – Broomball with Cantor Howard – 4-6pm
  • Sunday 01/23 – JRC Soup Kitchen – TBD
  • 02/18 – 02/20 – JRC Youth Kallah – Presidents Day Weekend
  • Sunday 03/06 – Whirlyball – 1-3pm
  • Sunday 04/03 – The Forge: Outdoor Air Adventure Park – 1-4pm 
  • Thursday night 05/19 – Lag B’Omer Bonfire (actual date of Lag B’omer) – 6-8pm