In a recent blog post on the blog of the Office of High School Programs at Brandeis University, Dvora Goodman, director of Genesis at Brandeis University, issued a call to both Jewish educators and parents to work together to make it clear to Jewish youth that Jewish education is a number one priority.
"We can’t leave the choices up to the teens themselves. We also need to send the message to parents of Jewish teens that they need to make Jewish education a non-negotiable activity – the one thing they must do (and they can choose any other activities they wish to pursue).
It is too easy just to admit defeat with the teenagers who are not choosing to come and concentrate on developing our programs for those who are attending. But if we continue like this, I think more and more Jewish teens will not be engaged in any sort of Jewish learning experiences during high school, and that should not be something we let happen without a strong enduring fight. I believe that as Jewish educators working in communities, we need to work closely with families and teens to make sure that we provide educational opportunities that fit their busy schedules, and then we need parents to make sure that their children attend. Alternatively, for anyone completely over-extended with school and activities that they feel are absolutely necessary for their neshama, their soul, then we need to convince parents that they need to make sure that instead that their children take part in interesting and engaging Jewish experiences each summer. Which program is their choice. That they participate in one each summer should be non-negotiable.
We can’t let these teens slip away from us. We need to all work together to continue to send out the strong message to parents that Jewish education is a number one priority, and then we can continue with our contribution of providing high quality, engaging Jewish experiences for the teens so that they keep coming back. What will it take to get this message out there…?"