From the CEO: Jewish Education Project Study Provides Insight into Connecting with Jewish Teens
Summer is in full swing and thousands of greater Austin preschool children, youth and teens are immersed in a diversity of Jewish summer experiences in Texas, the United States, Israel and around the world. At the Shalom Austin J alone, close to 1,000 children will attend one or more of our JCamps summer programs, building lifelong friendships with their peers in an exciting Jewish environment, shaped by our amazing camp team.
Two excellent and historic Jewish summer overnight camps in Texas, Camp Young Judaea and Greene Family Camp, will host more than 1,400 Jewish youth and teens, gaining valuable life skills and dynamic Jewish learning with the care and oversight of 270 staff.
Between JCamps and Texas Jewish overnight camps, more than 50 summer shlichim, Israeli counselors either at or toward the end of their military service, will join our summer faculty teams to infuse the camps with Israeli culture and learning, creating a lasting connection to Israel and the Israeli people.
For more than 60 years, the Jewish world has significantly invested in creating Jewish summer camp and trip experiences for Jewish children, youth and teens. Immersive Jewish summer programs have a profound influence on one’s Jewish identity.
Recently, the Jewish Education Project, which “inspires and empowers educators to create transformative Jewish experiences, helping children, teens, and families thrive in today’s highly complex and challenging world,” teamed up with Rosov Consulting, a professional services firm in the Jewish communal sector, to commission and publish “Generation Z Now: Understanding and Connecting with Jewish Teens Today.” The study, which included 17,500 Jewish youth, focused on the impact of youth-serving organizations and their longtime impact on Jewish continuity as teens become young adults. There were four key findings:
Involvement in a Jewish youth-serving organization is related to positive teen outcomes.
Teens get more from more youth-serving organizations.
Jewish content lifts all boats.
Youth-serving organizations could attract more diverse Jewish teens.
Not surprisingly, positive Jewish summer experiences directly increase the likelihood of teens participating in youth-serving organizations.
The Jewish Education Project has created an invaluable resource for local Jewish communities. Rachel Stern, in her capacity as director of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Jewish Culture and Education, will convene our synagogue, organizational and community leaders to review the study, analyze our impact relative to its findings and make recommendations on how to increase participation in youth-serving organizations by enhancing experiences of our children before reaching teen age and ensuring we have dynamic options for youth and teens and their families.
Wishing all of our families a happy, safe and meaningful summer.
Rabbi Daniel Septimus