How might synagogues and Jewish communities respond to the needs of teens to express their inner turmoil and to learn new techniques for managing stress and emotional exhaustion?
The rabbis and cantor of Congregation Or Ami sent this letter about sexual violence to our adult congregants, our 9th-12th graders, recent high school graduates (18-22 year olds), and our faculty. We also sent a note to parents of 7th-12th graders with suggestions on conversations with their children.
The Parent-Teen Mental Health and Wellness Summit realized a dream: to transform our synagogue, Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas), into a truly safe place for teens, their unique emotional journeys, and the parents who love but are unsure of how to protect them.
Why did Congregation Or Ami focus our energies on creating a mental health and wellness retreat? Because today's teens are particularly stressed out, overwhelmed by anxiety, buffetted by the emotional turmoil engendered by social media. They crave support and relief.
Adulthood arrives later than when we were kids. When young people take more real responsibility not only for their own lives, but also for those around them, and for their community, country and world, they begin to manifest a level of maturity that evidences approaching adulthood.
An open letter to Camp Newman teens, staff and alumni from Rabbi Paul Kipnes about getting through after the fire. (Okay to share with adults too)
It is time for us to lift the veil of silence around mental illness, talking about it and our mental health journeys. Especially in the Jewish community.
A mother speaks about her appreciation that the Congregation Or Ami and its rabbis offered deep support for their daughter on her battle with depression.
Teen Dani, an 11th grader, shared her mental health journey (through depression) to an overflowing synagogue on Yom Kippur.
Adin becomes a Bar Mitzvah by candlelight when the power went out. And the lessons learned were powerful.
Wouldn’t your heart soar too, if children left the High Holy Day children’s program and services kvelling? When older teens lead and mentor younger teen leaders, they felt energized as they passed on the responsibility of Jewish educational leadership to their younger peers?
Guest Blogger Rabbi Julia Weisz reflects on taking 8 teens to Washington DC for the L'taken Social Justice Program, transforming their lives and intensifying Congregation Or Ami's teen program.
Youth engagement succeeds when teens have real life responsibility for their own Jewish learning. After years of adequate adult-led youth services we reached out to our teens. Their involvement as High Holy Day service leaders resulted in more spiritually engaging youth services and also the development of a cadre of teens capable of leading their younger peers in meaningful worship.
"To say the NFTY-EIE program changed my life would be an understatement. The four months I spent in Israel were the happiest times of my life so far." Reflections of teen Rockey Greenberg on a high school semester in Israel.
Teen Carly Feinstein speaks about how Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica's social justice work transformed her. Congregation Or Ami's young leader changed the world.