My Thoughts on Teen Engagement
Though my connection with individuals of all ages is a large part of the vision of my rabbinate, if there is any one group of individuals with whom I truly adore spending time, it is the teens. Perhaps my passion for working with teens began when I was a teenager, and was privileged to build close and meaningful relationship with my own rabbis. Over the years, my interactions with the teens, from B'nai Mitzvah through high school graduation, has been some of the most intense, time-consuming, meaningful and holy work of my rabbinate. I see the power of that relationship, and how it models not only for them but also for me.
I have treasured each and every Bar and Bat Mitzvah student I have worked with. Not only do I truly enjoy the time I spend with these coming of age students, but I love hearing their interpretations of Torah and how they apply their Torah parasha to their lives as thirteen year olds. When I pass the Torah to them through the generations, I am in awe of that moment and the transcendence of Jewish learning through the ages. The opportunity to share the Priestly blessing with each Bar and Bat Mitzvah child is priceless.
One of the experiences I treasure most is teaching high school students. Not only do I work hard to instill in them a basic knowledge and understanding of God, Torah and Israel, but I strive to be sure they have a passion for Judaism and Jewish learning, so that wherever their journey in life may take them, they will have the urge to learn more. These past few years I have enjoyed hosting Confirmation classes in my home every other week. We have studied together, cooked together, prayed together and created beautiful and meaningful Confirmation services.
I love the informal time I spend with teens in youth group and NFTY. Just "hanging out" with them, watching them in their element, allows me to show great nachas. I have had the pleasure of traveling with teens to the URJ Religious Action Center, NFTY national and regional events, New York City, Washington DC, New Orleans, and of course Israel. I truly enjoy the experiences I create with these teens, and I recognize and take to heart the relationships I have built with hundreds if not thousands of teens in the last few decades.
B'not Mitzvah Charge and Blessing