The teen years have always been a challenge. Figuring out who you are; navigating complex social systems; being pressed to succeed academically; a body that changes from day to day—almost no adult would willingly return to adolescence.
In our intense modern world, with a 24/7 fishbowl of social media and a heated and polarized public debate, it is no wonder that levels of anxiety and depression are increasing, even for the most successful teen children.
Fortunately, we continue to learn more every day about how to best help teens. Years of research have identified the factors that support teens to grow and thrive: adult mentors; supportive peer groups; the safety to explore difficult and personal issues with depth and honesty; and a community with a robust values system.
Judaism and Jewish community can—and does—offer this to teens.
Our ancient Jewish values of treating each other as if we are all made b’tzelem Elohim, in the divine image, of caring for the poor and those who are orphaned, and of working for social justice, have special resonance today.