There are some obvious signs that parents might not be as smart as we’d like them to be.
Do you want to hear some of the comments I’ve heard from parents who choose not to continue their teens’ Jewish education past the age of bar/bat mitzvah? Or Confirmation? Keep reading.
First, you need to know that really, I understand that today’s teens are busy, committed to many activities, are often holding down a part-time job, and dealing with the pressures of scoping out a future in college. I think my posts will convince you of that.
But hey, we know in our working and personal lives that the timeless often gives way to the trivial unless we prioritize and begin thinking of outcomes.
Yet, innumerable times, I’ve heard parents opt for the immediate, for the path of least resistance, for the easiest option instead of the best option.
I’m not saying that Jewish education is guaranteed insurance for success in college (maybe we could market that), but building a strong identity, critical thinking skills, a social network, and even earning college credits (or engaging in serious analysis) in a Jewish environment will help with college competencies.
I’m not just assuming all of these benefits, I actually hear it from our graduates.
Here is a sample of some parent comments that focus on the immediate instead of the timeless, on a path of ease instead of a path of priorities. They are not the smartest things I’ve ever heard. (My advice for parents about some of these issues are here).
“How will this be useful? I mean, we know the value of other activities (ouch, activities?), but I’m not sure about this…..”
“So and so will probably do a birthright trip in college….and that will solidify his/her Jewish identity, I’m sure.”
“In our family we’ve decided to emphasize ‘regular’ school….because, you know, it counts.”
“This falls very low on the priority scale, compared to other things that will look good for college.”
“So and so is planning on going to a college with a large/big/sizeable/impressive Jewish population, and socializing at Hillel will insure that he/she will stay connected.”
“The synagogue offered to pay so and so–and having a job instills a sense of responsibility, and besides–there just isn’t that much time to do so many Jewish things.”
Should we accept the obvious signs that parents have written off what we have to offer? Or should we continue to be stubborn optimists?
I hope that Jewish parents are smarter than this, but the burden is on us to change the game where we focus on the benefits that our programs offer instead of features.
- A Short List of What the Jewish Community Should Do for Teens (ruthschapira.wordpress.com)
- The Beginning of the End for Liberal Jewry (commentarymagazine.com)
- NYC Jewish population growing again, comprehensive study shows (jta.org)