Sunday, August 20, 2006

Reform Jewish Youth...

I just returned from NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) Summer Kallah, a convention of high school youth groupers from the Northern and Chicago Regions. One hundred forty teenagers were together up at OSRUI in Oconomowoc. I spent two nights up there and joined the teens in their study sessions, worship services, meals, etc.... (Why? I am the Chicago Region Rabbinic Advisor)

I was, as always, impressed by a group of kids who come together to live and celebrate Judaism. I was, this time, a little shocked by one thing. The rabbinic faculty of the region generally come together on one day of this event to teach...a dozen rabbis and educators from around Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis join together to teach our teens. It's a great opportunity for us to meet with the youth groupers and it's a nice opportunity for them to get to know rabbis other than their own. This year the topic was Israel. We felt that most of these kids might not have had a chance to talk to a rabbi or perhaps anyone about the current situation...and in some ways we were right.

Most of the kids had little or no opinion on the war in Israel.
Most of the kids had little or no knowledge of what is going on in Israel.
Most of the kids didn't follow the news about Israel.
Many of the kids didn't have any...interest in Israel...

And I was shocked.

Do we as an American Jewish community have a responsibility to be informed about Israel? I believe the answer is yes.

Do we as an American Jewish community teach our young people the value of Zionism? I'm not sure that we're doing such a good job on that front.

What do you think?

1 comment:

Renegade Kosher said...

I dunno... I think as we grow older, Israel means different things to all of us. Do I love Israel? Yes. Do I think children should be forced to learn about it? No. The simple asnwer is if you force children to do ANYTHING, they will come to lothe it. And do we want Jewish youth lothing Israel? I think not.

I just pray for peace, and keep the coming holidays in mind as I hope THIS will be the year peace will rain from the skies of the Middle East instead of rockets. I think, if anything, we should educate our children on WHY the war is happening, if anything. Not force them to learn, but just explain why the fighting is happening. If they want to learn more on their homeland afterwards, then by all means support it! But never force them into learning it.

But then again, I'm just a food geek, so disregard my thoughts if you wish...