On a weekly basis, I interact with members of a cohort that have been recently featured in a rash of reports: Jewish teens.
This sudden interest in teens is a good thing, because as little as two years ago (when I started this blog), a Google search of Jewish teens turned up barely any recent research at all
Try searching now, and this is what you’d get. Progress? Definitely.
Although as Jewish educators we are pleased that these new studies have contributed to the conversation about how to engage Jewish teens, no research center or foundation will know what I know, from the stories I hear.
The stories are not from the teens I work with now, but the ones I’ve worked with and known for the past decade. Now, they are young adults…out of college and into their busy lives.
What they share with me is not the stuff of research: not from surveys, phone polling, focus groups, or market research.
My undocumented data is gleaned from speaking with thousands of young adults about their Jewish education over many, many years.
I listen very closely to what they say, and have had conversations with young adults in multiple settings: camps, youth groups, schools, and even around a kitchen table.
The one comment I’ve never heard is that anyone ever, I mean ever, regretted obtaining more Jewish education.
In fact, when their friends (who usually have had significantly less Jewish education than they did) have been part of these conversations, they regret not continuing, and say things like:
“I wish my parents forced me to go to Confirmation/Hebrew High after my Bar/Bat Mitzvah”
“I found out that I know so little about Judaism….I wish I paid more attention and continued my education when I could” (“there’s no deadline for that”, I usually chime in….).
Sometimes the teens themselves are able to recognize the value of continuing beyond the dreaded drop-off of a young 13. I just read online about a Jewish teen who extolled the virtues of his continued education .
The sad fact is that many parents have said the same thing. They regret not having more education. This is such a pervasive feeling that we can not deny it, even when tempted to defer to data, statistics, surveys and charts.
Photo: courtesy of http://www.flickr.com Alyssa L. Miller
- Jewish Parents Who “Get It” and Why: Generational Gifting of a Jewish Education (ruthschapira.wordpress.com)
- A fundamental flaw with much of Jewish education in America is that it forces us to view Jewish identity within a vacuum (dkquotes.wordpress.com)