How Does Experiential Jewish Education Impact Girls and Young Women?
Now that 14,000 middle and high school girls have participated in our experiential education program, Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!, Moving Traditions is launching an independent study to learn about the impact on participating girls and the adult women mentors who led their groups.
“We launched Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! to draw on Jewish values in order to help girls resist the limiting messages from the media and popular culture about what it means to be a woman,” said Deborah Meyer, founder and executive director of Moving Traditions. “We hoped this Jewish ritual would inspire girls to find meaning in Jewish community through high school and into their adult years.”
“Now that thousands of participating girls are young adults, we want to hear from them and the women we trained to lead their groups how the experience shaped their lives as young women and as Jews. Did Rosh Hodesh inspire them to seek out Jewish community? Did Rosh Hodesh empower them to become leaders in their secular and Jewish spheres? Did Rosh Hodesh provide them with a vision of womanhood that helped them reach for their full human potential?” Meyer said.
Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! – a program that uses the framework of Jewish values and monthly ritual to speak to the challenges of adolescent girls – has been widely adopted since its launch in 2002. Since that time, 388 partner institutions have partnered with Moving Traditions to run the program (mostly synagogues, JCCs, and day schools) and more than 1,400 unique groups of ten girls have met monthly with adult mentors trained by Moving Traditions.
Previous studies by Dr. Mirele Goldsmith and others found positive short-term impacts on participants.
The new study, led by experienced researchers Dr. Pearl Beck and Dr. Tobin Belzer, will look at long-term outcomes on both participants and group leaders, gauging the value of the program on the lives of Jewish students and young adults who participated when they were tween and teen girls between 2008-2010 and examining the attitudes and behaviors of educators who have led the groups.
Rabbi Daniel Brenner, Chief of Education and Program for Moving Traditions, is working closely with the researchers.
“Conducting long-term research requires support of visionary funders,” said Brenner. “We are inspired by the Jim Joseph Foundation’s commitment to research that sheds light on teen education – and grateful for their help in illuminating the work of Moving Traditions and the wider field of experiential education.”
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