Today is August 15, 2018 -
The Pew Report suggests that we have not been wholly successful in influencing our children to choose Judaism. I posit that if we provide enough positive Jewish experiences during the formative childhood years, then perhaps choosing Judaism will be a much more natural phenomenon.
Statistically speaking, Jewish camps continue to be the number one connector with Jewish continuity, with trips to Israel at number two. These activities are expensive, which is why our Federation is here to help. Our board has allocated $65,000 to assist our families in making camp and Israel more affordable. Please click here for a link to our application. Additionally, our board has allocated up to $30,000 for next month’s Teen Mission to Israel. We currently have 29 high school students registered.
I am also a huge fan of high school youth groups. Personally, I was very involved in NYFTY (through the Reform movement). I traveled to Syracuse for my first convention in 9th grade, and stayed at Robbie’s house. After college, Robbie and I shared an apartment, and after graduate school, I was the best man in his wedding.
My wife, Ilana, was actively involved in Young Judaea, formerly connected with Hadassah. She traveled to Israel with Young Judaea twice, and she continues to have close friends from her affiliation.
Our oldest daughter, Maya, was very involved with NCSY (through the Orthodox movement). She went to every convention and was the local president during her senior year.
As a freshman, our second daughter, Jenny, had very little interest in joining a group. On one particular weekend, Maya was planning to attend a convention with NCSY. Some of Jenny’s friends were trying to convince her to go to the USY (through the Conservative movement) convention. She was refusing both. Ilana and I said, “Jenny, you may go to the NCSY convention. You may go with USY. You may go with NFTY, Young Judaea, etc., but you are going somewhere. This Friday morning, we are putting you on a bus. All busses are going to great places. You may pick any bus that you like!”
Jenny picked the NCSY bus to be with her sister. Today she is the local NCSY chapter president. Probably not coincidentally, she will be going to Israel for her fourth time next month, and we are hopeful that when she leaves for college in the fall, that we will have provided enough positive Jewish experiences for her that she will choose Judaism.