Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Identity In, Spirituality Out For Jewish Teens

Jewish Week   What do the Jewish members of Generation Z — the one right behind the millennials — want?
Not conventional “spiritual” practices, including synagogue attendance, it turns out. What they do want, according to a major report released last week by the New York-based Jewish Education Project, is to be better human beings.
The study, based on the views of 139 teens between the ages of 12 ½ and 17 and from four cities — Atlanta, Boston, Denver and Los Angeles — found that while Jewish teenagers take deep pride in their tribal Jewish identity, they are largely checking out of traditional kinds of Jewish engagement.[...]
ess Korn, 17, a Jewish teen from Forest Hills, said her experience at Sababa Surf Camp, a new immersive teen summer program that teaches teens how to surf while blending in Jewish themes and learning, did more to bolster her Jewish identity than going to synagogue with her family. (The camp, and other similar immersive summer programs aimed at teens, is funded in part by the JEP.) Though she grew up in an active Conservative household, “singing ‘MaTovu’ and then running into the ocean” did more to enforce her connection to Judaism than the Hebrew school classes she attended weekly since kindergarten, she said.
“Praying through meditation every morning reminded me of the Jewish aspect,” she said, adding that the surf instructors taught them to repeat the famous maxim from Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, as they rode the waves: “For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise.”
The study also found that teens think of their Jewish identity as “cool,” thanks in large part to messaging from pop culture, said Bryfman.[...]
Trying to judge the success of programs by looking at fixed rituals, Bryfman argued, is flawed to begin with. 
“If ritualized synagogue life can’t adapt to that new reality, our community is going to be very challenged as these young people grow up.”

1 comment :

  1. This is a very big topic. It has to do with the entire system of chinuch today. Obviously the pnimius of Yiddishkeit, meaning the chovos halevavos, needs to be learned and not only the outward actions. But in the past, teaching the Torah and mitzvos was sufficient because their pnimius which is all correct Jewish values is automatically there. But today when many rabbis are hypocrates and they don't behave al pi Torah and don't have good middos, all we have from them is the outward actions they teach or the cognitive aspect of Torah study, while void of the pnimius. For example if they are not honest in money issues or are kavod hungry etc, then what do their teachings contain? This is what The Rambam calls a chillul Hashem r"l.


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