top of page
  • Writer's pictureRuth Schapira

Jewish Teens: Lost?


"Adolescence" by Giacomo Manzu Image by Ko:(char *)hook

Let’s play a game. Read the quote below and try to guess who said it.


No peeking.

“…..we are not preparing today’s teens and young adults for the kinds of pressures they actually face.”

Okay, to make sure you’re testing yourself honestly write your responses, and then share it with me here. Just hit comment at the end of the post.

It will be interesting for us to compare results, no?

Here’s the lead-in sentence to the quote above:

“We hope young Christ followers develop a faith strong enough to last and to influence those around them. However, for too many, their faith does not survive in the real world. Simply put, we are not preparing today’s teens and young adults for the kinds of pressures they actually face.”


First, I’ll share more about the quote. It’s from an e-mail I receive from the Barna Group, announcing a new effort to share information, resources, and offer training on this topic to better equip those working with teens.

They also revealed a new book, called YOU LOST ME,  which is the result of a five-year study about the “spiritual journeys of young Christians, especially how much our culture has changed and what it means for your efforts.”

So, I’d like to unpack this piece of news.

First is the feeling that maybe our Jewish teens are reflecting a greater spiritual need that is felt in other communities. In that case, we shouldn’t berate ourselves so much for our failures.

But the next thought that comes to mind is actually a bit of envy.  The Christian community is marshalling its resources to work on this challenge—and they’re tackling it as a community.

This group thought it important enough to invest FIVE YEARS of time, effort, and money into this issue. Imagine the interviews, focus groups, surveys it took to gather this data. So you’ll forgive me for the jealousy, since I’ve written about this plenty before.  It seems like many posts ago when I wrote that Jewish teens were underserved.

Though I am so very heartened by the URJ‘s new focus on youth engagement, it is a denominational response to a communal problem,and doesn’t create data about this population. And I am appreciative of the new study on Youth Engagement by the Jewish Education Project about teens in New York.

So, until the Jewish community decides that it is important to fully figure out broader solutions to the issue of teens who are ‘spiritually lost’ (without the piecemeal approach of a unique program here, a special grant there) I guess I’ll turn  my envy to respect for how the Christian community is going about this.


bottom of page