In The News

Moving Traditions in the news.

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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Moving Traditions Builds On Impact With New Offerings

Challenges facing youth are greater than ever—and anxiety rates are spiking. From growing pressure on academic achievement, to the 24/7 cycle of social media, to the rise of hate speech and violence rooted in anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism, youth need help. For 15 years, Moving Traditions has engaged parents, communal leaders, clergy, educators, and concerned adults to help Jewish pre-teens and teens to navigate this terrain and to flourish. Now, having just implemented a five-year strategic plan, the organization is poised to influence even more Jewish youth and families at this critical time.

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Intermountain Jewish News

At Moving Traditions, a space for teens to confront today’s issues

By Shana Goldberg, Intermountain Jewish News, September 26, 2019

At Moving Traditions, not all those leading the educational programs are professional Jewish educators. Rabbis, cantors and Hebrew school teachers, of course, but they make up only part of the ranks. So do artists, social workers and young adults.

One of the latter is Tal Arnold, 24, who is leading a Shevet group for teen boys at Congregation Beth Evergreen. (Moving Traditions also has groups for girls, “Rosh Hodesh,” and nonbinary teens, “Tzelem.”)

Arnold is Moving Traditions’ first second-generation group leader. His parents, Rabbi Jamie and Marti Arnold, led Shevet and Rosh Hodesh groups, respectively.

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Jewish Journal

‘CultureShift’ Initiative Helps Camps Create Safe Environments in the #MeToo Era

By Esther D. Kustanowitz, Jewish Journal, August 14, 2019

While Moving Traditions had already been working with camps since 2015 on issues around harassment and consent, “#MeToo really raised the alarm for the Jewish community and the wider world that we can’t ignore them anymore,” said
Moving Traditions founder and CEO Deborah Meyer.

“What makes camp so special and unique is our intentionality, from the songs we sing, the activities we provide, to how we speak to one another,” said Dr. Aviva Levine Jacobs, director of camper care at Camp Ramah in California and a Moving Traditions camp advisory board member. “CultureShift addresses that intentionality around sensitive topics that touch all of our lives.”

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