Unless we teach about consent to our teens, sexual assault at Jewish summer camps will continue

By Rabbi Daniel Brenner
May 25, 2022, Forward

In recent weeks, the Jewish community learned about a lawsuit involving a camper who sexually assaulted another camper at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in 2018. While the U.S. Southern District Court of New York will weigh the issues regarding institutional responsibility, there is a familiar gender element to the case: This boundary-breaking, like far too many others, started with a male camper attacking a female camper.

Ramah is not alone among Jewish camps in having challenges with teen boys. Over the last decade in my role at Moving Traditions –an organization that works with Jewish pre-teens and teens and focuses on the intersection of gender, sexuality and wellbeing – I have spoken with dozens of camp and teen program directors in the Jewish world and beyond. The majority of their stories of harassment or assault are stories of males that had to be sent home.

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