In The News

Moving Traditions in the news.

Kol Koleinu Fellowship Develops Change-Making Jewish Teen Feminist Activists

(By Esther D. Kustanowitz, Jewish Journal)

Founded by Moving Traditions, Kol Koleinu is open to Jewish high school students nationwide. Fellows learn about gender analysis, feminism and social change, teach their peers and complete feminist activist projects. In previous years, the group met monthly virtually and then in-person a few times a year. This year, all planned gatherings are virtual.

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Four Local Teens Among 2020-’21 Kol Koleinu Fellows

Jewish Exponent, August 28, 2020

Four Philadelphia-area teens were named 2020-’21 fellows for the Kol Koleinu program established by Moving Traditions, the Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue Youth.

The third-year program will featured 50 Jewish girl-identified teens in grades 10-12 in three regional cohorts who will “explore and deepen their feminist knowledge, channel their voices to share their beliefs and use their skills to create tangible change in their communities.”

“The pandemic, #MeToo movement, and struggle for racial justice are energizing Jewish teen girls to work for social change,” said Moving Traditions founder and CEO Deborah S. Meyer. “In the face of enormous stress from social isolation, these young women feel called to make meaningful contributions to their families, communities, and society.

Local teens include Leah Anderson, a senior at Friends’ Central School; Tess Armon, a sophomore at Abington Senior High School; Jocelyn Freed, a senior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy; and Hope Wahrman, a junior at Lower Merion High School.

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George Floyd Black Lives Matter

Statement in Memory of George Floyd and in Solidarity with those Fighting Racism

Let us teach our youth to recognize that the world rests on “justice, on truth and on peace” (Pirkei Avot 1:17). May we cease standing on the blood of our neighbors (Leviticus 19:16), instead doing all we can to stop the ceaseless killing of Black and Brown people in our country. May we hold to a vision of hope and press our society to truly repent and make teshuva for the sins of racism.

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5 Tips for Holding a Successful Online Rite-of-Passage Celebration

By Jen Anolik, Jim Joseph Foundation Blog, May 27, 2020

At a time when in-person graduations and end-of-year events have been cancelled, teens are missing out on important rite-of-passage experiences. In-person events can’t be completely replicated online. However, it is possible to create a virtual graduation ceremony or rite-of-passage event where teenagers can showcase their accomplishments to their community and experience an important sense of closure. Here are some things that I learned as we planned the end-of-year Kol Koleinu event.

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Moving Traditions Adapts to Pandemic

Jewish Exponent, May 21, 2020

While Moving Traditions programming is usually centered on in-person gatherings, virtual meetups and training sessions were becoming more common before the coronavirus appeared. To operate its programming, Moving Traditions partners with synagogues, schools and JCCs for its four core programs: B’nei Mitzvah, which helps parents and pre-teens navigate the issues around the bar/bat mitzvah experience; Rosh Hodesh, an educational program for teen girls; Shevet, for teen boys; and Tzelem for trans and non-binary youth.

Tzelem, which comes from the Torah that we are all created in God’s image, has always been an online program for youth all over the country to meet and connect with each other. Moving Traditions has been adapting what it learned from this program, and the Kol Koleinu (All our Voices) fellowship for teenage feminists, to move all its programming to an online format.

“Like all organizations, our initial reaction to the crisis was to make sure everyone was safe,” Meyer said. “But we also worked quickly to make sure all our partners had the tools and capabilities to take our programming online. In the past months, we have done webinars and one-to-one coaching to help translate the in-depth, intimate conversations that take place in our programs to the online experience. We know we must meet the needs of Jewish life no matter what is happening in the world.”

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The Jewish News of Norther California - The J

Israel, ‘chill pills’ and masculinity: the new Jewish education

The Jewish News of Northern California, January 22, 2020

In a session led by Deborah Meyer of Moving Traditions, a Pennsylvania-based organization that creates b’nai mitzvah programs, participants walked to corners of the room to stand under signs that best described their own middle-school selves.

“We want to get ourselves in the place of, who was I, what was it like when I was 12 and 13?” Meyer told the group.

Serving a slightly older demographic, David Lieberman is a facilitator for Shevet, a program for high school-age boys at New York City’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. He said the arrangement helps them to explore masculinity in a safe space.

“What do boys need — in our context, it’s Jewish boys — in order to become themselves?” he asked.

Lieberman said social isolation is a huge problem, with boys feeling increasingly disconnected from their feelings and embarrassed to confide in friends. At the same time, social pressures about acting “like a man” are ever-present.

“They’re being inundated with messages they are not unpacking or thinking critically about,” he said.

Shevet gives them a place to talk about what they see in the world, and what Jewish texts tell them about responsibility and adulthood. The program also teaches media literacy skills, which allow the teenagers to look more deeply at what society is communicating to and about them.

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Big-Mouth Bar Mitzvah

By Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Lilith, Spring 2020

In the months leading up to the bar mitzvah of our eldest child—a cisgender, so-far heterosexual, prank-loving son of two feminist queer moms, one a rabbi and one a professor of Rabbinic Literature—we did things a lot of parents do. We stressed about the guest list, figured out environmentally friendly giveaways, negotiated plans for family needs. I tutored our son on his Torah and haftarah readings. My partner helped him with his speech. We were both proud when one of the first questions he raised in looking at parshat Tazria’s opening verses was “Is God sexist?” He simply could not accept the different rules for a mother of a baby presumed to be a boy and one presumed to be a girl.

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