Info for Teens

So, maybe you had a bar or bat mitzvah, or maybe not, but you’re Jewish… and now you’re wondering what that might mean, exactly, in terms of living your own life.

Should you go to the Friday night dance or Friday night services?

Keep kosher like your parents or eat whatever you want?

Date only Jews… or play the field?

Maybe you fit in with the other teens in your temple or synagogue youth group… or at college (if you’re old enough to attend college)… or maybe you don’t.

Maybe you don’t enjoy services as much as you used to enjoy them, and you’re wondering why you bother going?

And maybe you think the prayerbook is boring, the language stilted, someone else’s words, not your own.

But you still pray to God,

(Or you would pray to God if you could find a way to believe in Him or Her or Whatever).

Yet you like some–maybe not all–of the Shabbat melodies.

And you enjoy Israeli dancing at the JCC and the post-Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties of your friends and hanging out at the mall or going together to the movies.

So, maybe you run hot and cold about being Jewish.

But have you ever really asked yourself why you feel the way you do?

Here’s your chance, if you’re willing to take a few minutes to respond to one or more of the questions below:

1. What do you like about being Jewish and why? Can you make a list of five things?

2. What don’t you like about being Jewish and why? Can you list five things?

3. Do you keep kosher? Does your family? Why… or why not?

4. If you had a bar or bat mitzvah, do you think (looking back) it was important–or unimportant–to your development as a Jew? Why?

5. Do you plan on dating only Jews? Why… or why not?

6. Do you think your children–if you plan on having children–will be Jewish? Why… or why not?

7. Have you read any Jewish books lately? Can you list the titles and authors and describe how they made you feel about being Jewish?

8. How do you feel about the Hebrew language? (Can you read Hebrew and understand what you read?) Do you think Hebrew is necessary to being Jewish or an unnecessary burden? Why?

9. Is there anyone–a parent, a teacher, a rabbi, a family friend–who you can talk to about being Jewish? If so, can you describe him or her and what he or she means to you… and what you talk about… and how often… and why it’s important to have these conversations? (Have you thought of interviewing him or her about being Jewish?)

10. If you could talk to anyone in the world about being Jewish, who would you pick and what would you say?

11. What if there was no one to talk to about being Jewish? Can you create a character–Jewish or not Jewish–and write a story about your relationship to this character and how you can talk about being Jewish to him or her (or maybe it’s just your pet dog or cat)?

12. If you prefer, imagine a conversation that the two of you might share together and write down your questions… and the character’s answers… and your responses to his or her answers…

Thanks for taking the time to think about these questions.

If you’d like to submit your responses to The Jewish Writing project, you’re welcome to send them as part of an e-mail (not as an attachment) to:

Good luck.

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