If you are a parent or grandparent of an adolescent, or soon will be, then you may be wondering about the challenges facing teens and how the Jewish community might play a role in their lives.
Moving Traditions is committed to guiding pre-teen and teenage girls and boys on the difficult journey to becoming resilient, responsible young women and men in the Jewish community and the wider world.
The reality for many teens is that they, or their close friends, wrestle with academic anxiety, depression, bullying, questions concerning sexuality, binge drinking, dating violence, prescription drug abuse, eating disorders, and various pressures to conform to social codes or to defy authority.
Rather than wait until boys and girls are in crises, Moving Traditions’ programs build for health. We develop curricular resources and train mentors to create intimate, single-gender teen communities, where Jewish values and a gender lens are applied to the daily challenges of teens’ lives.
- Single-gender space paradoxically makes it possible for girls and boys to examine and challenge narrow and potentially damaging definitions of masculinity and femininity promoted by popular culture.
- Mentor-facilitated conversations connecting Jewish values to the inner struggles of teens have a positive impact.
- Peer communities foster healthier attitudes and help teens develop positive connections to other teens and to adults who they can turn to, in addition to their parents.
- Jewish teens can play a significant role in changing their peer culture. As they practice stepping forward in their groups, girls and boys build confidence and the skills to advocate for change in the wider world.
Our approach is informed by “Positive Youth Development” (PYD), a field that has been advanced by scholars and practitioners since the 1990s. PYD shows that when teens are guided by mentors who create safe space, when they connect to a community of values, and when they have a supportive peer group, they exhibit greater resilience and engage in fewer risky behaviors.