The Challenge for Boys

Shevet National Training Seminar 2012

“…hopefully you will be inspired, as I have been, to create new connections with Moving Traditions, working side-by-side with them to meet the needs of Jewish teenage boys.”

-William Pollack, Ph.D, Harvard Medical School

A startling finding uncovered in our research about boys is that their dissatisfaction with supplementary Jewish education is significantly higher than that of girls. Close to half of boys view bar mitzvah as their graduation from Jewish life, while a third of girls feel this way. The Cohen Center of Brandeis University found that 68% of teen boys called their experience of Jewish sponsored activities or classes “repetitious” and “not meaningful.”

Contrary to popular stereotypes about teen boys, our research found that many teen boys are eager to explore the divergent and confusing messages the receive about masculinity. In addition, we found that Jewish boys want to spend time with adult male mentors, deeply appreciate being in all-male environments where they can escape the social pressures of co-educational space, and long to be taken seriously as young adults.

Shevet focuses on the questions that teen boys ask as they journey toward manhood and connects these questions to the ethical, spiritual, and psychological insights of Judaism.

Moving Traditions is now applying in our work with Jewish teen boys both the findings from three years of research on boys as well as the expertise we gained from more than a decade of working with adolescent girls, keeping them engaged in Jewish life post-bat mitzvah.

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