Source: Jewish Student Connection
Many teens disconnect from Jewish life after their bar or bat mitzvah. Rather than expect an influx of teen involvement in current organizational offerings, Jewish Student Connection (JSC) counters this trend by bringing Jewish experiences to where teens are – their high schools. Unlike synagogues, where entire families must join, or youth groups with dues and inconvenient locations or meeting times, JSC weaves Jewish experiences into the regular lives of teens at their public high schools.
Since a 2012 split from its partnership with the Orthodox Union, JSC has focused on pursuing its vision of a non-affiliated, non-denominational youth organization. Working from this perspective, the organization welcomes both Jews and non-Jews alike to explore what Judaism means to them, and nearly all of these students would not have access to Jewish engagement otherwise. Staff members act as mentors to students who meet on campus and engage in deep and fun Jewish experiences, including cultural programs, discussions of current events, and visits from Israeli speakers. JSC provides multiple points of entry for students, without boxing them into a routine or schedule. Some students attend JSC clubs three days a week, while others pop in at their convenience and when they feel comfortable doing so. Now based in Chicago, Denver, South Florida, and New York, JSC aims to replicate its model in more regions throughout North America, thereby ensuring that more teens have access to Jewish identity-building programs.