Jewish Teens:The Young and (thankfully) Restless
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With a nod to the TV show, I recently encountered a unique version of the restless young; amazing and energetic young adults staffing or attending an International Youth Convention. They are eager to change things up in the world of Judaism.
I needed this dose of inspiration because sometimes being a Jewish educator can slowly gnaw away at one’s naturally optimistic nature.
The people I met are committed to doing some great work.
A Harvard graduate, now in Israel attending rabbinical school, is the Rabbinic Intern at a synagogue south of the Lebanon border. He’s chosen this career over countless other opportunities. He leads parent and teen educational sessions, capitalizing on upcoming b’nei mitzvot as a natural interest builder. The parents are highly curious and very engaged in learning.
Jewish future? Score one win!
A graduate of our Jewish community high school who is now a college senior happily told me that beginning in August, he plans to make Aliyah to Israel. He will be joining Garin Tzabar, the organization that facilitates this process. He sees this as his next step after college. I also met up with the daughter of a colleague, finishing day school this year, who also plans on making aliyah through this organization.
Jewish future? Score another win!
Then I briefly met a young Rabbi of a synagogue in central New Jersey who I remembered from my days at Camp Ramah, interested in dynamic ways of reaching out to congregants and whose wife is working professionally in informal Jewish education. What a young power team.
Jewish future? Score!
I suddenly felt as if I was attending a Jewish education movie preview where I was on the red carpet, interacting with our team’s all-stars.
I then met that Rabbi’s brother, also in Rabbinical school, serving as kitchen kashrut (kosher) supervisor (mashgiach). He made sure that he connected and made friends with the kitchen and hotel staff because they need to know that in Jewish practice, everyone is important.
Jewish future? I’m still counting wins!
I forgot to mention that the college senior’s sister, also a graduate of our program, is now spending the year in Israel. On my way out, just when I felt that it couldn’t get better, I met another graduate of our program, who is teaching in a day school.
Wins? For sure. It seems from my small vantage point that the collective we are doing something right when just these few young adults have been inspired to change things up.
They are young. They are restless to get started. Let the Jewish future begin!