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May 22, 2014 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-05-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


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Dinner at Temple Shir Shalom's Sunday Night School: Emily Mazius, Marlee
Rothman and Henry Burg, all 17; Elana Weinstein, staff; Jake Rothman, 17;
and Jeffrey Fox, 18.

Teen Engagement

Federation's Alliance studies how to
better serve today's Jewish teens.

Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor


P: 248.723.2320


May 2.

long with retaining and
reconnecting young adults
to Detroit, another pressing
issue for this aging Jewish community
is to develop a strategic plan for engag-
ing Jewish teens in meaningful Jewish-
identity-building programs.
Some enrollment numbers compar-
ing 2001-2002 and 2013-2014 school
years explain why:
• Total enrollment in Jewish schools
(early childhood-grade 12) has
declined by 28 percent.
• The number of students enrolled
in congregational schools has declined
by 46 percent.
• The number of students enrolled
in day schools remained constant.
• The drop-off rate in congregational
schools is significant after bar/bat
Federation's Alliance for Jewish
Education is spearheading a teen
engagement effort, along with the
22 Detroit-area education directors
and youth professionals who make
up the Youth Professional Council.
National trends and key programs
were researched and, with input from
this group and support from the
Stephen H. Schulman Committee and
Federation, the Alliance created a teen
survey to gain feedback.
During a three-month period, the
survey garnered 240 teen responses.
According to the 2010 Detroit popula-
tion study, approximately 4,400 teens
live in this area. Although response

was low, it represents teens from 46
local schools; 61 percent identified as
Reform, 28 percent Conservative, 4
percent Orthodox and 5 percent "just
Jewish;" 43 percent have traveled to
Israel; 89 percent are enrolled in a
Jewish day school or congregational
school; and 90 percent have attended
at least one Jewish youth program in
the past year.
Research revealed that, statistically,
a higher percentage of Detroit teens
are more involved in youth groups,
day schools, congregational schools,
Jewish overnight camps and travel to
Israel than the national average. For
example, 52 percent of Detroit Jewish
teens belong to Jewish youth groups
versus 18 percent nationally; and 22
percent of local teens attend congrega-
tional schools compared to 8 percent
According to the survey, much
competition exists for teens' time,
with homework ranking No. 1. Teens
say they attend Jewish activities to be
with friends and Jewish friends. When
asked what programs they'd like to see,
teens suggested community service,
madrichim or counselor opportunities
and youth group social events.
Research and dialogue with profes-
sionals also showed challenges to teen
engagement include staff shortages,
financial issues and parental apathy.
All this information will help direct
a Jewish Teen Engagement Task Force,
led by Sue Curhan of West Bloomfield,
and made up of youth professionals,
lay leaders and teens who will make
recommendations for future planning

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