Barack Obama told a conference call of rabbis this morning that he supports government funding for after-school and mentoring programs in faith-based schools
If the group of Gen Y-ers -- also known as Millenials or NextGens or iGens -- who gathered for a Jewish leadership conference in Santa Monica last week are any indication, it seems that parents who did everything to build their children's resumes and self esteem may have been on to something. This handpicked group of Jewish leaders in their 20s and early 30s have the self-confidence to think -- to actually believe -- that if the old people would just make some room for them, or maybe get out of the way altogether, they could fix this mess of a world. They are committed to social justice; they are willing to get their hands dirty; they have great ideas, time to volunteer, and they have the arrogance, self-centeredness and technological savvy to bring their ideas to fruition. The question is how to channel all that into the Jewish community.
As part of Sulam Summer Service Corps, the teens, who come from Jewish day schools and public schools throughout Los Angeles, have been spending their days with local kids who attend the center's day camp. The emphasis for the day camp's elementary school kids is on sports, teamwork and friendship; for the mentors, on giving back.
Rebecca Levinson grew up always doing things for the community.
"This is what you do," the 17-year-old junior at North Hollywood's Oakwood School, said matter of factly.
Last fall, I started working with Franklin, a 7-year-old autistic boy. My job was to help shape the child's behavioral and social patterns, promoting ones healthy to his development, while curbing ones that hinder him.
As a mother of two grown children, Morlie Hammer Levin knows the challenges of balancing family, career and spiritual life. But factor in the L.A. native's recent New York move, a high-pressure job with a high-profile organization and finding a new religious community and you have the makings of what would be a well-deserved nervous breakdown for anyone else.
"I'd love to tell you I'm some brilliant mastermind that chartered this treaty, but the reality is that week by week, we're still working the streets," William "Blinky" Rodriguez said about the gang treaty he helped broker to bring rival groups together to talk. "We'd be out until 2, 3, 4 in the morning."
Normally, a parent might agonize over her teen's decision to defer her freshman year of college. But when my 18-year-old daughter Lauren left recently on a flight to Israel -- deferring her first year at college for yet a second time -- I was thrilled.
For Jewish life in the Deep South to overcome the twin plagues of attrition and assimilation, American Jewish culture must change, argues Macy Hart, executive director of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute for Southern Jewish Life.
When USC freshman Cynthia Gross asked professional director Anthony Barnao to mentor her new L'Chaim Theatre Ensemble, he was blunt.