Why I’ve devoted my recent career to advocate for Jewish teens
I didn’t start out as a Jewish educator. I began my professional career as a Career Development Consultant*, and Jewish education was ‘something I always did on the side’, beginning in high school when I started tutoring, then teaching in supplementary schools. I did this even while working full-time at my “real” job.
The work attracted my passion slowly but resolutely and when I was offered the opportunity to work in Jewish camping full-time, I grappled with the challenge of giving up a career that had been very rewarding to me over the years. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I had to make.
It’s been over a dozen years since I began as a full-time Jewish educator. I’ve never looked back, and I’d like you to care about the future of Judaism as much as I do, through the lens of Jewish teens.
I’ve spent many years teaching in supplementary schools, and almost as much time at Camp Ramah (17 years as camper, counselor, teacher, advisor, Assistant Director). This adds up to (yikes) over 35 years of experience working in formal and informal settings. (I hate those descriptors by the way, the best of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ education is really not one approach, or even two, but a combination).
I don’t mind shaking things up a bit, and would like you to journey with me as we envision a different future for Jewish teens.
*Career Development Consultant. I know that seems odd, working with others on Career Development, and changing my career. Careers are not static, but instead are reflective of individual growth, being ever in a state of change and development. The trick is to explore those paths!}
About the Blog: I want to challenge your assumptions, get you to think about the issues in different ways, and ultimately, try to get you to care about Jewish teens. Why? Because we are experiencing a crisis of commitment and they are an underserved population, that is until they get to the college campus.
Then tons of funds are thrown their way, from free trips to Israel, service trips abroad, and funded fellowships. Those are just some of the goodies.
Teens are our future, and we need to pay attention to them if we want to change the future. I write for those of us working with Jewish teens: teachers, administrators, parents, counselors, advisers This is where I can share news, information, ideas, thoughts, concepts, and new programs with you.
Disclaimer: what I write about are my own thoughts based on my daily experience working with and for Jewish teens. Recently appointed as the Director, I’ve been working for over 12 years at one of the country’s largest supplementary community high schools. Jewish teens who have opted to continue their education past the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah are a rare breed, and I think we owe them a great experience.
Please share your thoughts and comments! If you find it helpful to pass along a blog or two, please attribute appropriately and above all else, please let me know where you’ve shared it. It’s very gratifying to hear that my blog has made its rounds to Boards of Director meetings, Education Committee meetings, and more. I think we can change things….and I’m heartened that it has already started to happen!
Connect with me here or on Twitter: @ruthschapira