I believe every Jewish teen has to make a fundamental decision, especially when getting ready to think about college.
Behind that decision are responses to feelings about Jewish identity.
The question begins with: How do I feel about being Jewish?
Is there anything in the way I feel about my heritage that makes me different?
Is there anything I do that makes me feel different?
How do those differences contribute to who I am? Are these differences that I should celebrate or run away from?
Would I rather be the same or different from other students who aren’t Jewish?
Are our Jewish teens getting any guidance about this?
These prompts are either-or in nature, though we know that life is not generally like that.
But in order to really prioritize values, the black-white choices are what helps clear the dust from the corners.
Underlying any choice is the light shining on the things that matter for our teens’ future Jewish involvements in college and beyond.
There are no easy answers to this one. It depends on what the family has decided to value.
Research and studies have shown that the more multiple connections to Jewish life, the more Jewish identity is secured.
But that only matters if Jewish parents want their teens to maintain their differences.
Right now, the pull seems to be toward sameness.
Are you facing these challenges? Please share your thoughts.
- Parents: Will your teen ‘do’ Jewish in college? (ruthschapira.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Parents: Choose your teen’s activities wisely (ruthschapira.wordpress.com)
- One in 6 U.S. Jews seeking Jewish expression outside of synagogue (jta.org)
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