In this week’s Two Voices, our guests talk about how youth can connect with their Judaism over the summer.
Rabbi Pete Tobias says…
The question of how anyone keeps ‘in touch with their Judaism’ is an intriguing one, regardless of age or the time of year. It could be argued that a Jewish school has little impact on a young person’s Jewish knowledge.
At a recent Limmud conference, an Israeli rabbi who runs a one-year post-secondary school programme stated that participants from Jewish schools in the UK are way behind their contemporaries from Australia, South Africa and the USA. Religion School also has little impact – also largely as a result of Jewish schools, which have a detrimental effect on attendance. It is assumed that Jewish schools take on the mantle of providing children with a working knowledge of Judaism, but I fear that all they do is provide an environment filled with other Jewish children, the benefit of which is not entirely clear.
I believe summer offers our youngsters the greatest opportunity to connect with their Judaism in ways that no structured programme of education in any type of school can approach.
As you read this, hundreds of young British Jews are taking part in Israel programmes, from which they will soon return, hopefully enthused with a love for their heritage and culture.
Many more are about to go to residential summer camps organised by various UK Jewish movements, where they will encounter elements of being part of a Jewish community that no school can hope to emulate. My journey to the rabbinate wouldn’t have happened without the Liberal Jewish summer camp of Kadimah to inspire and focus it.
• Pete Tobias is rabbi at The Liberal Synagogue Elstree
Anna Craven says…
Summer can be an exciting time, with the chance to do something different, ensuring that Judaism isn’t confined to school or cheder.
Judaism is something to be celebrated and can be a strong part of a young person’s identity. I urge you and your children to get involved with your youth movement this summer. July and August should be the busiest time for youth to experience and enjoy their Judaism.
There are so many opportunities for everyone, from the ages of five to 25 – giving the chance to build people’s relationships with Judaism and Israel. Summer camp is a good place to start. Whether it’s Liberal Judaism’s Kadimah or a similar camp run by Jewish organisations across the UK, they are a brilliant way to make friends, while keeping up with Jewish learning.
For those celebrating the end of GCSEs, summer means an amazing trip on Israel tour. Many youth groups offer these to match your personal ideology. There are also Europe Tours for those of an older age group who want to discover more about the history of Jewish people on this continent. And for those looking to spend the summer interning or volunteering, there are summer programmes too.
A summer spent with a youth movement is a way to get a Jewish experience and identity that doesn’t happen in term-time.
• Anna Craven is an LJY-Netzer movement worker