I usually write about kid-friendly topics here at JewishBoston, and often that news skews younger, toward the tween-and-under set. Good news: Now JewishBoston has its very own teen-centered website, JewishBostonTeens.com, which showcases opportunities for leadership, travel, camp, volunteering and more, all in one place.
“The goal is to help our community be better connected when it comes to the opportunities for teens to connect to Jewish life,” says Brett Lubarsky, associate director of the Jewish Teen Initiative of Greater Boston, a partner in creating the site. “The problem is, unless you know somebody who knows somebody, you probably don’t know about the vast majority of opportunities out there because there are so many gatekeepers of this information in the community. We’re trying to remove the barriers and answer the question: ‘How do we get more Jewish teens involved in Jewish life post b’nai mitzvah?’ The first thing, the most important thing, is to make sure they know this stuff exists.”
JewishBostonTeens.com is an initiative of CJP, in partnership with JewishBoston and the Jewish Teen Initiative of Greater Boston. It’s supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation.
Here’s why you (or your teen!) should check it out:
Events, organizations and blogs, just like at JewishBoston, are easily navigable and customizable via teen-specific criteria: grade level, location (North Shore, Metro West and so on) and interest.
It links Boston-area Jewish teens like never before. At last!
“Teens said to us, ‘Hey, I’m having conversations with my friends. I find out we’re both into art. Where do I look for the art stuff?’ Or, ‘I’m having conversations with my friends and they tell me they’re into service and volunteerism. Where do I look for the volunteerism stuff?’ There was a gap; there was no central menu of opportunities,” says Adam Smith, former executive director of Jewish Teen Initiative and now associate vice president of young adult and teen engagement at CJP. “Now, teenagers and their parents have a centralized place to find activities and resources, all in one place, instead of relying solely on their JCC or synagogue. This was a tool that was missing.”
There’s lots and lots of content. (But it’s all easily searchable. See above!)
We’re lucky to live in a culturally rich community with plenty of Jewish organizations. But where to begin? Where do you or your family fit in?
“I’m excited because Boston has an incredible array of things. We have an embarrassment of riches in the Jewish teen space in Greater Boston, and we haven’t ever focused our time collectively on a plan to link young people with opportunities that are the right match for them,” Smith says. “The thing I’m fired up about and completely excited about is this is a paradigm shift. We’re placing families and young people in the drivers’ seat to be architects of their own experience, and we’re doing it in partnership with existing content providers. We’re not trying to plan new things. We love all the things!”
There are resources for professionals, too.
Even if you’re not a teen anymore (sorry), the site is still incredibly useful. “We realized the Jewish professionals in our community didn’t have a one-stop shop for resources, so we built that as well: professional development opportunities, best practices, research and upcoming events,” says Lubarsky.
There’s even a Partner Resource Kit for organizations to promote JewishBostonTeens. “We want to make it as easy as possible for teens to connect with and create the Jewish life they want,” says Ashley Jacobs, JewishBoston’s content manager, who led the new site’s creation over 18 months. “We’re excited to be able to provide this valuable resource to the community.”