Jewish Journal

First mentoring program to help Iranian Jewish teens

by Karmel Melamed

December 19, 2007 | 10:10 am

Local Iranian Jewish young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s are looking to give back to their community through a unique mentoring program for Iranian Jewish teens. The new program matches high school students in the Iranian Jewish community with young professional mentors in select professional fields, including medicine, law, business, real estate, education, journalism, and Jewish communal/non-profit work. The mentors are successful Iranian American Jews who are carefully screened, trained and are accessible resources for the program’s participants. The project is indeed ambitious and the first of its kind for our community as there really has not been much outreaching to Iranian Jewish teens.

Set to launch in mid-January 2008, the program was organized by Jewish Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Los Angeles, Nessah Synagogue, and “Thirty Years After ,” a non-profit organization devoted to enhancing the role of the Iranian-American Jewish Community in American civic and political affairs. I was approached by the organizers of the program to serve as a journalism mentor to Iranian Jewish teens seeking to become news reporters and I found the opportunity exciting. What better way to pass on my knowledge about news reporting than to volunteer only a few hours each month to help a younger person. Unfortunately many of us Iranian Jews in our 20’s and 30’s did not have anyone to serve as mentors or guides while we were growing up. Our parents were unfamiliar with the American educational system and the various opportunities available in different fields. In fact many of our parents discouraged us from getting into field other than medicine, law or engineering because they felt those areas were more financially stable.

But now the times have changed and parents are more Americanized and perhaps more open to their children pursuing different careers. Another aspect of this project that I find interesting is the fact that one group in the local Iranian Jewish community finally decided to take responsibility for passing on Jewish leadership skills and a sense of Zionism to our teens. Hopefully this new generation of Iranian Jewish teens can carry the torch of community activism and also succeed in their own careers.

For more information on how you can serve as a mentor or get a child involved in the program, contact: 30yearsafterevent@gmail.com

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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