Moving Traditions, the non-profit organization that organizes the Rosh Hodesh program developed the Shevet program for boys after three years of research and pilot programming. Here is how Rabbi Daniel Brenner from Moving Traditions describes the program:
Shevet is a program designed for teen boys by a group of rabbis, educators, psychologists, parents, and teens themselves. In general, the program is a lot of fun for the guys – they’ll be playing various competitive and collaborative games, talking about pop culture, studying great Jewish texts, eating, and sharing stories. But they will also have an opportunity to discuss, in a safe and private setting, critical issues in their lives as teens and young men. It is this last piece that prompts our communication to parents.
There are sessions on issues such as money, pleasure, fighting, manhood, and academic pressure. Guys will likely talk about body image, pornography, relationships, homophobia, competition, substance use and abuse, depression, and courage. In our pilot groups, we saw great variation in the sessions – sometimes they would stay on a rather surface level and sometimes they would dig deeper and guys would leave the sessions feeling as if they were finally getting to say something that had been locked up inside for quite a while. The curriculum utilized popular culture through dozens of Youtube videos that help teens to think critically about the messages they are getting from the wider world.
Many people have asked us “What is the reason for the private nature of the group?” In our work over the last decade, we have seen time and again that teens benefit from a safe space to speak about some of the core issues in their lives. While the group is not therapy, it may raise questions that guys will struggle with on an emotional level. Each teen reacts differently to this kind of exploration. If they do speak with you about the group, please remember that they should not be sharing information specifically about other guys in the group – rather encourage them to speak in general terms. If they do not wish to speak with you in detail about what was discussed in the group, we hope that you’ll respect their desire to respect the privacy of others.
Our goal is to guide teen boys to think critically about the social pressures that weigh on them, to develop their ability to turn to one another and to turn to wisdom from the Jewish tradition to navigate through their challenges, and to think about the steps that they need to take to be a mensch.
If you’d like to read more about our educational approach, we suggest reading over the themes of the sessions, and if you are not already in touch with us, sign up for our newsletters.
On the Moving Traditions website, you will find interviews with some of the teen boys who have participated in the group at our pilot sites so that you can get a better perspective on their view of the material. You can also read interviews of group leaders who speak about the nature of the sessions.
Again, we are thrilled that the teen boy in your life is participating in the program and we hope that it will not only be a great social experience, but will inspire both intellectual and spiritual growth.