I work for a great organization, A+ Solutions in Cleveland, Ohio. Last week A+ Solutions sponsored an event with a local Jewish organization, JFX, Jewish Family Experience, a congregation and Sunday School led by Rabbi Sruly and Ruchi Koval. They offer Jews of all ages, backgrounds, and affiliations a fresh look at Judaism in a way that offers education, inspiration and community.
Our topic was “Raising Teens and Tweens with Jewish Values.”
We had a panel of speakers: A+ Solution’s therapist Lauren Ehrenreich, LISW-S, Stephanie Silverman of Your Teen Media, Rabbi Arieh Friedner of Cleveland NCSY and Jeffrey Soclof, the father of four teens. Ruchi Koval, Associate Director of JFX, did a wonderful job of moderating the panel.
The panelists all had much experience with teens and tweens, either raising their own or in a professional capacity.
Here are the top three tips from our panelist on how to raise teens and tweens with Jewish values
- Find ways to connect with your Judaism:
Ehrenreich started off the discussion by entreating parents to live by their Jewish values. Teens are sensitive to hypocrisy. You cannot ask your teen to do something that you don’t do. If you want your child to do chesed in the community, you need to role model this for them. You need to be involved in chesed in the community. Children do what you do, not what you say.
- Make for yourself a rabbi, acquire for yourself a friend:
Jeff Soclof stated that parents need to have a relationship with their own role models. He suggested that parents create positive ties with the rabbis in their community. It’s vital that parents maintain relationships with their old role models, teachers and rabbis from their school years. Make sure that your children witness you, talking to your rabbi, visiting with them or even calling them before the Yom tovim.
It is also important to encourage teens, within safe boundaries, to seek out appropriate relationships with rabbis that they look up to. Sometimes teens need someone else to talk to besides their parents and friends.
- Make Good Memories
According to Rabbi Arieh Friedner, Director of Cleveland NCSY, Teens are highly emotional and memories of this time in their lives are powerful. We want to make sure that we are making our kids Jewish experiences fun and meaningful.
The fact is, Chazal has set up Shabbat and Yom Tov to be memorable. Most of us have fond memories of our Shabbat and Yom Tov tables. We all remember the special foods our mothers and grandmothers made. It might seem strange to teens, but most of them recognize that unplugging and spending time with our family and friends over Shabbat can lead to a great time.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.