Congregation Shaare Emeth to host Yom Limmud event for teens


The third annual Yom Limmud: A Day of Discovery for Jewish Teens will be held on Sunday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Congregation Shaare Emeth. The event gathers 8th through 12th grade students from all branches of Judaism for a day of learning and fun. This year more than 300 teens are expected to participate.

The idea for the program grew out of conversation at the Youth Professionals Council, said Rabbi Ari Vernon, director of secondary education at the Central Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE). The council includes youth directors from area synagogues, the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) advisor and others who run youth programs in the community. Rachel Plotkin, who was the BBYO co-director at the time, saw a similar program in another community and brought it to their attention.

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The council adapted the program to the needs of the St. Louis Jewish community and brought the idea to the Jewish Educator’s Council who “jumped right on board” said Vernon. The first year they had hoped to attract 50 to 100 teens, said Vernon. However the reality far exceeded their expectations, with 220 students attending the event. Last year, close to 300 students attended.

“We are extremely grateful to Shaare Emeth for providing the facilities,” Vernon said. “There aren’t many institutions in the community who can handle the number of attendees and provide appropriate spaces for the break-out sessions.”

The ideas for workshops are generated by Vernon, the youth directors, education directors and suggestions from the teens themselves. Most of the workshops go outside the regular curriculum offered at most of the educational institutions. The workshop facilitators represent the wide breadth of Jewish educators in the community.

“We try to bring in facilitators who might not otherwise be accessible to students,” Vernon said.

Students will be able to choose from 12 different workshops at each of the two break-out sessions. There is quite a wide range of topics including: presenting yourself on Facebook and the internet, song leading, mitzvot, Israel, becoming a camp counselor, Judaism’s subtle sexual messages for men and healthy relationships for girls. Richie Gallant and Tyjuan Morrow, two students who participated in Cultural Leadership, will present an interactive African-American Jewish dialogue about their experiences in the program.

Participants in the Jewish Community Relations Council Student-to-Student program will share their experiences about visiting area high schools without a Jewish presence to talk about their lives as Jewish teens.

St. Louisan David Kramer will talk about his experiences as a member of the champion Beit Shemesh Blue Sox team during the first year of the Israel Baseball league.

“This event provides a social atmosphere with a Jewish context that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the community for this diverse group of teens,” Vernon said. “Based on the success of this program we are working to create more opportunities for our teens: socially and Jewishly.”

Registration for Yom Limmud is $5 and walk-in registration is available. For registration or more information on Yom Limmud, contact Rabbi Ari Vernon at 314-442-3758 or visit

On the same day at Shaare Emeth, teens will also be able to learn about the amazing opportunities at the Israel and Summer Program Fair open from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. They can learn about trips to Israel from Alexander Muss High School, BBYO Passport to Israel, Etgar 36: An American Journey, Israel Bound – St. Louis Reform Jewish Teen Trip, National Federation of Temple Youth, United Synagogue Youth Summer Programs, Young Judaea – Israel and more. CAJE Israel experience director Karen Rader is coordinating the event. Information about scholarship opportunities will also be available. For more information call Rader at 314-442-3756.