Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars
Support for Entering Adulthood in a Jewish Context
We may either smother the divine fire of youth or we may feed it.
Jane Addams (1912)
The quest for meaning begins in adolescence. It is during this transitional lifecycle stage
that teenagers are challenged to consciously create their own personal philosophy - an
inner compass to guide them on their path towards adulthood. Jewish teenagers are
fortunate in having access to 4,000 years of human questing after meaning to support
them as they enter adulthood. Their cultural and moral birthright, with its values, code of
ethics, spirituality and supportive rituals, all provide guidance in charting their course
during these formative years. It is the wisdom and vision of our Jewish heritage that
provides the foundation for Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars. Throughout the seminar, teens
will be exposed to what is most meaningful and rich in all branches of Judaism and will
hopefully point their internal compass in a direction that will lead them towards a life
informed by genuine Jewish values. The manner in which they choose a Jewish path for
themselves, however, is entirely within their hands. Nativ Seminars is non-denominational
and not affiliated with any particular movement or synagogue.
As Judaism understands it, the meaning of life is the creation of self-aware, morally free
and ethically responsible human beings. Adolescents today experience multiple pressures
and confusions as they work to fashion their own identities and personalities. Nativ
Seminars supports them in making healthy and smart choices in preparation for the
challenges of moving into adulthood, with its accompanying freedoms and
responsibilities. Socialization skills, effective communication skills, and conflict resolution
skills are all enhanced, while beliefs, values and priorities become clarified. Most
importantly, Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars affirms the wonder and delight of youth and
celebrates teens for who they are, as well as the young adults they are becoming.
WHAT ARE NATIV - JEWISH TEEN SEMINARS?
Over the course of a Shabbat or an entire weekend, teens are invited to participate in
supportive, challenging and creative group interactions in a safe and nurturing
environment. Activities will strike a healthy balance between those that spark the creative
and imaginative potential of youth and those that promote critical thinking, rationality,
decision-making and problem solving. Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminar‘s approach to working
with adolescents allows for a creative blending of solid planning with fluidity and
spontaneity in discussions and activities. Maintaining a flexible approach allows for serious
discussions, while respecting the growth-enhancing power of humor and play and the
healing aspects of the expressive arts.
Infused with the vast richness Judaism offers at every level, the Nativ format includes
intriguing talks and stories, Jewish rituals that excite, motivate and move the spirit, large
and small group dialogue, expressive arts explorations, and activities and games that
challenge and promote self and other awareness. Both discussions and activities address
the following common adolescent themes: peer relationships, family conflict, effective
communication, spirituality, self-image/body-image, social skills, Jewish identity, sibling
rivalry, divorce, identity issues, sex, love, individuality and belonging, self-esteem, anger,
loss, discrimination, drugs/alcohol, trust, and expression of feelings, hopes, and dreams.
Teens are engaged on multiple levels and thoroughly enjoy themselves as they learn and
grow. Most report that the seminar was one of their most fun-filled weekends ever.
Experts from throughout the Jewish community will also contribute their talents during
seminar ―break-out‖ sessions. These include alumnae from the Jewish addiction recovery
center, Beit T‘Shuvah, on drugs and alcohol; former Buddhist monk, Rabbi Scott Shapiro,
on Jewish meditation; musician Mike Mason, on drumming as Jewish self-expression; and
Maggid/Jewish storyteller, Paul Wolf, on journeying through the world of the imagination.
Drawing on Judaism's rich heritage of community involvement and pursuit of justice, Nativ
- Jewish Teen Seminars will focus on furthering socially desirable ends, in addition to
supporting individual growth. Nativ Seminar teens will practice democratic participation in
community life and selfless service to others, while simultaneously receiving support as they
continue to ―grow themselves.‖ Teens will be taught leadership and organizational skills
that will develop and promote responsible citizenship and social goals beyond the group.
THE BENEFIT OF GROUP WORK AND GOALS
Affirming group encounters, even when experienced on a short-term basis, have the
potential to dramatically alter the paths of youth and help them adapt to the multiple
challenges of entering adulthood. The group creates an environment where adolescents
receive support in their search for identity and in their efforts towards personal growth as
they help one another understand themselves. A sense of competence, belonging and
creativity is cultivated within group members and the seminar room becomes a place
where teens feel honored for their strengths, rather than singled out for perceived deficits.
At Nativ Seminars, teens are provided with a new and refreshing way to create healthy
systems - in personal relationships, schools, families and community. Surrounded by their
peers, teens can work through interpersonal problems and examine what are believed to
be the four basic identity questions: Who am I? With whom do I identify? What do I believe
in? And where am I going? Valuable new skills and insights are gained, sagging Jewish
neshamas (souls) are renewed, and positive interactions are practiced – all resulting in the
establishment of healthy relationships. Teens experience a sense of belonging to a group
where their creativity, intelligence and inherent wholeness are celebrated. As teens
challenge and stretch themselves in healthy ways, they emerge empowered to make
their lives work the way they really want. They glimpse the possibilities for their future, both
the contributions they can make, as well as the gifts they can receive.
Goals: Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars will present adolescents with an approach to life's
most important issues from an authentic Jewish perspective. In an atmosphere of fun,
spontaneity and openness, we will help teens learn how to:
Understand the relevance of Jewish values and beliefs in their journey to adulthood.
Discover a new appreciation, respect and empathy for themselves and their families.
Deal effectively with peer pressure in making their own healthy and informed choices.
Renew or ignite their spiritual connection to Judaism and experience the fulfillment of
Jewish community as represented by the diversity and unity of the seminar room.
Build and maintain a trusting, respectful, nonviolent peer community.
Address anger, sadness, fear and other emotions in a healthy manner.
Improve problem solving related to normal teenage concerns (rebellion, body image
and sexuality, alcohol and drug use, impaired social judgment, etc.).
Discover hidden inner resources and apply them in making healthy decisions.
Establish clear standards for personal behavior with accountability for their actions.
Communicate in a healthier manner.
Respond to the consequences of everyday life with integrity, flexibility, joy and humor.
WHY ARE NATIV - JEWISH TEEN SEMINARS NEEDED?
1) Why is a teen seminar needed?
Though the adolescent rite of passage has always been one of experimentation,
ambiguity and even peril, the journey towards adulthood has never been accompanied
by the risks, isolation and vulnerability that today's youth face. Numerous studies have
concluded that our teens are challenged in every sphere of life, including their physical,
cultural, religious, social, and economic environments. Even well-adjusted teens benefit
from additional support during adolescence. And for some, these risks and challenges
manifest themselves in problematic relationships with families, schools, and peers.
With the increased social, emotional and educational demands on adolescents,
accompanied by more freedom and autonomy of choice, today's youth require
additional guidance in order to achieve a healthy transition to adulthood. Studies have
found that the availability of stimulating and supportive environments, with the committed
involvement of healthy, caring, and competent adults, are a significant counterforce to
these vulnerabilities in youth. Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars provides just such an
environment – a place where risk factors are mitigated or reduced, while the teens enjoy
establishing new relationships with both others and themselves.
2) Why is a Jewish teen seminar needed?
Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars offer Jewish youth a new manner in which to experience
their connection to Judaism and, in so doing, to reduce their exposure to the normal risk
factors that accompany the adolescent rite of passage. The following three studies
illuminate the need for such programs. The most recent teen study was conducted by
B‘nei B‘rith Youth Organization (BBYO) in 2005 in order to better understand the attitude of
adolescents towards religion. Findings revealed that the majority of American teens feel
religion is important in their lives, but nearly all struggle to find a way to meaningfully
connect to their faith. Additionally, they expressed a need to connect in less conventional
ways, but were not exactly sure how to do so (67% of all teens surveyed said that they
would like to better connect with their religion, yet nearly half of those teens said they did
not know how. Among all teens who said they found it difficult to connect with their
religion, 68% said they would better connect if there were a more meaningful and less
conventional way to do so). This survey underlines the need for communities to create new
ways to engage teens at this pivotal time in life when religion is still important to them and
when they still desire a connection. Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars is one such solution.
Matthew Grossman, BBYO Executive Director states: ―The BBYO survey results highlight how
important it is for all different religious groups to reach out to teens in new, creative ways. It
is clear that religion is important to the majority of American teens, but teens are also
telling us they need and want better connections.‖
According to the ―Adolescent Task Force Youth Survey Report‖ created by ―Shema‖ in
1998, ―the development and maintenance of a Jewish identity in youth and the continuity
of connection to the Jewish community into adulthood are perhaps the major issues of
importance to the Jewish community as it relates to its adolescents.‖ In addition, Jewish
teens report actively seeking out ways to deepen their relationships to other Jewish teens.
53% of teens surveyed expressed an interest in participating in a group where they can
meet new people, have fun and learn more about themselves - a place where ―I can talk
with others about things that matter to me or that are bothering me.‖ It is a communal
imperative that the Jewish community provides a safe environment that will encourage
such meaningful interactions (http://www.search-institute.org/congregations/Shema-
A third study, entitled ―Being a Jewish Teenager in America: Trying to Make It‖ was
conducted by Brandeis University in December of 2000. This study was designed to
develop a comprehensive picture of the attitudes and behavior of young Jews, as
shaped by both the Jewish and American contexts of their lives. Sadly, the study
documents a decline in participation in Jewish activities as teenagers move from the
pinnacle of their Jewish education -- becoming a bar or bat mitzvah -- through the high-
school years. Whereas nearly all adolescent respondents participated in some Jewish
educational, volunteer, or recreational activity in 7th grade, just over half did so in 12th
grade. In addition, for this generation of young Jews, the synagogue does not appear to
stand for spirituality and their ethnic feelings are not necessarily expressed through
The Brandeis study also revealed that a search for meaning is of great importance to
adolescents, but that Judaism is often seen as irrelevant to this search. Three-quarters of
the Brandeis study adolescents indicated that they cared seriously about searching for
meaning in life. Among these, however, only 40% sought to find that meaning through
their Jewishness. Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars believe that Judaism can provide, if not
answers, then at least questions, and should certainly inform the search for meaning. Our
presence in the community will begin to provide a much-needed resource for Los Angeles
Jewish youth. (http://www.brandeis.edu/ ije/pages/Publications/publications.html)
WHO IS THIS SEMINAR FOR?
All adolescents require support and guidance as they navigate the uncharted, and often
turbulent, waters of young adulthood and create a personal philosophy for themselves.
And all adolescents require stretching of their spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and social
limits. Therefore, teens aged 13-18 from all walks of life and from backgrounds and religious
ideologies spanning the full spectrum of American Jewish experience would benefit from
participation in Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars. Overall, the group will be a typical mix of
young people — bold, curious and ready to be an adult one-minute, and questioning
who they are and where they are going the next. The spectrum includes everyone from
the socially competent teen who chooses to join the group recognizing it as a positive
growing experience to the teen who is beginning to experiment with risky and acting out
behaviors and is coerced into attending by their parent (don‘t worry – they‘ll love it!).
The following provides a cross-section glimpse of the teens who will become a part of the
Nativ community: the average teen struggling to handle the normal daily stressors of
adolescent life; the socially awkward teen; the socially competent teen who is dealing
with a challenging home situation; the teen who has not yet found a niche in the Jewish
community; the teen struggling to cope with a family divorce, death or other painful
disruption; the formerly ―well-behaved‖ teen who is beginning to experiment with risky
behavior; the truant teen; the well-adjusted teen who strives for self-understanding; the
teen with poor impulse control; the ―always good‖ teen who is hiding an eating disorder;
the angry teen; the gay or lesbian teen who harbors a secret disrupting his or her life, etc.
Success Stories: The following are a sample of the comments from the "teen evaluation
forms" distributed at the end of the Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminar:
―My mother always taught me there is no such thing as perfection so I guess I would
have to say Nativ was a 99 out of 100!‖
―There is really not a lot to improve about Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars! The
weekend was incredible and I would do it again in a heartbeat!‖
―I had the most incredible weekend ever! Everybody really taught me the most
amazing lessons I will ever learn in my lifetime. I learned to trust and respect others,
but I think most importantly, to trust and respect myself.‖
"I didn't want to come because I thought it was going to be either like school, shul
or therapy...but it wasn't like any of these. I don't know how to describe what it WAS
like, but all I can say is that it was one of the best, most fun, most meaningful
weekends of my life!"
Parents also report marked changes in their children after completion of a teen seminar:
―This experience was everything we wanted for our daughter...uplifting to her spirit,
she connected with other kids, and she experienced trust and unconditional
caring. I know she will never forget this positive experience. Plus she loved it!‖
―I tell all my friends, ‗If you want sanity in your home, then send your kids to Nativ!‘‖
―Our daughter is learning how to lead and set an example that other teens can
follow and this not only strengthens her own sense of self-esteem, but it means that
she can become an agent of tikkun olam (healing the world) in her own way.
Follow-up: Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars also understands that for change to last sufficient
support structures must be in place. Follow-up programs include: a monthly alumni
evening session offered to any teen who has participated at any time in a seminar; a
weekly ―teen topic‖ group facilitated by Beth Freishtat, M.A.; participating in future Nativ
Seminars as a ―back-up team‖ member (see below); a monthly newsletter from the
facilitators; access to the Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars internet chat room; and the
knowledge that both facilitators are always available by telephone or email. In addition,
when necessary, therapeutic referrals will be made.
Teen “back-up team”: Each Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminar includes four teens who have
already completed their own seminar and who choose to return in a voluntary leadership
capacity. This team of committed individuals constitutes an integral component of the
program‘s philosophy, which stresses the importance of preparing teens for active and
positive participation in their communities. Having a role of responsibility allows teens to
develop leadership skills, cultivate a sense of competence, contribute to their sense of
belonging, and keep them involved in their own personal growth process. Past seminar
success is evidenced by the enthusiastic response to calls for back-up team members.
Timeframe: The Shabbat seminar will run Friday 4:00pm-9:00pm, Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm
and for three Sunday evening sessions (of three hours each). The full weekend seminar will
run from Friday 4:00pm-9:00pm, Saturday 10:00am-8:00pm and Sunday 10:00am-7:00pm.
Single-gender seminars are also available.
Cost: Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars cost $250 per seminar. Scholarships and a sliding scale
fee are available. A portion of all profits will be donated to tzedakah (charity).
Facilitators: Teens need trusted adults to listen to their struggle with both practical and
existential questions and to help guide them and keep them anchored. Nativ - Jewish
Teen Seminar‘s facilitators, Beth Freishtat, M.A., and Rabbi Jackie Redner, M.A., fill this role
for countless teens. Ms. Freishtat has a masters in child and family therapy and expressive
arts therapy and seven years of experience counseling teens in Washington and
California. In addition, she conducted frequent teen seminars for Washington youth, the
success of which led to the creation of Nativ - Jewish Teen Seminars for Los Angeles youth.
Ms. Freishtat has a professional background in Jewish communal service and Judaic
studies, working in areas as diverse as Jewish programming for the Jewish Federation to
conducting art therapy groups for inner city Jewish youth. Prior to receiving her masters in
clinical psychology and expressive arts therapy, Ms. Freishtat completed graduate studies
in documentary filmmaking and worked as a film and television producer.
Jackie Redner received rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in
Los Angeles, California in 2003. For the three years, she was the campus rabbi at Kadima
Hebrew Academy, a K-8 Jewish day school in West Hills, California and is currently the
rabbi and Jewish educator for Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in Los Angeles,
California. From 1989 until 1998 Rabbi Redner worked as a registered occupational
therapist in the areas of adult and adolescent psychiatry and physical rehabilitation.
Throughout this time, she also trained in a Jungian-based psychology known as ―Process-
Oriented Psychology‖ in Portland, Oregon and Europe.
KUDOS AND TESTIMONIALS
"Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars are a valuable supplement to existing teen youth
organizations, both denominational and nondenominational. With those groups focusing
on the communal and religious aspects of Jewish identity, there remains a need for a safe
haven to explore the challenges teens face within a caring and professional Jewish
context. Nativ is exactly that haven. I commend its founders and recommend it most
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
Vice President, American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, California 90077-1599
(310) 476-9777 x257 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.bradartson.com
―Healthy communications, social, spiritual and psychological balance, and the relevance
of Judaism in a teen‘s life are the foundations for Nativ –Jewish Teen Seminars. Beth
Freishtat and Rabbi Jackie Redner could not have chosen more thought provoking and
crucial ideas to address in this exciting, new program. Together, they bring just the right
blend and expertise to have a positive, enduring impact in a teen‘s life. I highly
recommend the program.‖
Bill Cohen, Head of School, Los Angeles Hebrew High School
5900 Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 560, Van Nuys, CA, 91411
(818) 901-8893, www.LAHHS.org
―I have the greatest confidence in Beth Freishtat. She is bright, wonderfully dynamic,
dedicated to healing, and a delightful role model for our youth. As one who works with
college students, I invariably find young people struggling to achieve personal
enlightenment as they navigate the turbulent waves of adolescence. Nativ – Jewish Teen
Seminars will equip teens with the inner strength to enter young adulthood armed with
greater self-confidence and deeper awareness of their own strengths and limitations.
Beth is a wonderfully nurturing individual dedicated to Tikkun Olam, perfecting a
fragmented world. Nativ is a fulfillment of these generous Jewish principles.‖
Rabbi Jonathan Klein, The Allen and Ruth Ziegler Rabbinic Director, USC Hillel
3300 South Hoover St., LA, CA 90007, (213) 747-9135
―Rabbi Redner is a creative educator who gently engages and encourages her students
in their exploration of their Jewish identities. Her graceful demeanor and keen sense of
humor serve as powerful examples to young people.‖
Barbara Gereboff, Ph.D, Head of School
Kadima Hebrew Academy, West Hills, CA 91307, (818) 346-0849
―Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars sound amazing! As a religious school director, I see how
much stress kids are under from their parents, their schools and their friends. Kids need a
safe space to express themselves without the pressure of the world caving in on them.
These retreats will give students the opportunity to do this, as well as give them the skills to
cope when they return to the world. Kol HaKavod!‖
Melissa Werbow, Director of Religious School, Stephen S. Wise Temple
15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles, C.A. 90077.1520, (310) 889-2229
―Beth's combination of professional skill as a teen therapist, her knowledge of and passion
for Judaism, and her warmth and exuberance make her the perfect director of Nativ –
Jewish Teen Seminars. She will undoubtedly offer these youth a life altering, and
Rhonda Adessky, Ph.D., Director of Training,
The Center for the Treatment of Traumatic Stress & Anxiety Disorders
Hadassah University Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Ein Kerem, Israel 91120
―I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the thoughtful, sensitive, caring, insightful,
loving, and deeply personal way in which Rabbi Jackie Redner prepared our daughter for
her Bat Mitzvah. Hannah studied with Rabbi Jackie for 4 years every week, learning not
only Hebrew and Torah, but gaining an understanding of herself as a young woman in
relationship to Judaism. The degree of trust, sense of safety, love, and containment that
Rabbi Jackie provided was evident in the quality of their relationship which we saw on the
Bima. There was a gentle, relaxed, respectful and focused attention which flowed
between them. Rabbi Jackie is blessed with a wise soul, a deep connection to G-d, and
the ability to carry the feminine spirit in a loving and generative way. I recommend her
Wendy McGinty - mother of Hannah McGinty, Bat Mitzvah student of Rabbi Jackie
―I spend my days working with Jewish teens as a high school teacher and advisor. I
believe that even the healthiest of young adults would benefit from a program like Nativ –
Jewish Teen Seminars. Teens are seeking meaning in their lives and in the world around
them and any healthy, creative support we can provide as they do so is an imperative.
This is exactly what Nativ Seminars provide. And with facilitators of the caliber of Beth
Freishtat and Rabbi Jackie Redner, both of whom I know professionally and
personally, there is no question that this experience will be enjoyable and meaningful for
anyone participating. “
Elizabeth Kattler M.A., Director Judaism BaBayit, JudaismBaBayit.com
Jewish Studies Teacher, Milken Community High School
―Beth is the perfect, easy-going and open-minded leader for the kind of important
discussions that will take place at Nativ. I‘ll be one of the first to sign up!‖
Sara Figel, Beth Freishtat‘s current student, 14-year-old student
Chadwick School, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
―We thought that Rabbi Jackie Redner was just going perform our son's Bar Mitzvah. What
we didn't realize was that she was going to touch us all, bring us even more together as a
family and help us discover new understanding and appreciation of our Jewish lives.
Maybe we didn't realize what was going on because Jackie Redner doesn't "teach" so
much as gently and effortlessly lead. She listens with a warm and open heart. She
understands teenagers on a visceral level, and she respects each of them for exactly --
and only -- who they are. Working with our son, she immediately earned his trust, and in
doing so, immediately earned our entire family's love.‖
Janis Hirsch, Parent of Bar Mitzvah student of Rabbi Jackie Redner
Co-Executive Producer, "Will & Grace," 8383 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 500, Beverly Hills 90211
―I look forward to my Sunday mornings with Rabbi Redner. She regales us with fun
songs and shares her amazing knowledge with us. She is always excited to relate Jewish
stories with us and encourages us to talk about our views, and to ask questions. With
Rabbi Redner there are no wrong answers. It is fun studying with Rabbi Redner.‖
Elana Meer, Bat Mitzvah student of Rabbi Jackie Redner‘s
Mirman School, Los Angeles
―My mother always taught me there is no such thing as perfection so I guess I would have
to say Nativ was a 99 out of 100!‖ – Michael Greenberg, Beverly Hills High School
"I didn't want to come because I thought it was going to be either like school, shul or
therapy...but it wasn't like any of these. I don't know how to describe what it WAS like, but
all I can say is that it was one of the best, most fun, most meaningful weekends of my life!"
-- Nativ Seminar graduate
"Nativ Seminars have not only left me a strong sense of confidence to express myself, it has
also shown me, through great games and activities, how fun and easy it is to work in a
group and talk about my experiences, both inner and outer." -- Kenneth Schneider, New
Community Jewish High School
―Nativ was an amazing experience that I will never forget. The facilitators, Beth and
Jackie , were incredible! It had just the right amount of ―Jewish-ness‖ – not smothered
with praying and ―Judaism teaches this‖ and ―Judaism teaches that.‖ I liked that we
talked about Jewish values, but I also liked that we didn‘t have to eat Glatt Kosher food
the entire weekend! The ―playing‖ aspect of the seminar was a highlight because we got
to run around freely and have fun. I give this weekend a 100% and would recommend it to
anybody!‖ -- Nativ Seminar graduate
"I didn't think this was going to be fun at all and wanted to back out at the last minute. But
it was SO MUCH FUN! I wish it could be every week! And I really think we all grew so much.
I love you guys! Thanks! -- Nativ Seminar graduate
―There is really not a lot to improve about Nativ – Jewish Teen Seminars! The weekend was
incredible and I would do it again in a heartbeat!‖ -- Nativ Seminar graduate
―Thank you so much for this entire weekend! You kept me interested the whole time and
really made me reach into myself and find my comfort, sensitivity and trust. I appreciated
everything and had the most amazing time!‖ -- Nativ Seminar graduate
―I had the most incredible weekend ever! Everybody really taught me the most amazing
lessons I will ever learn in my lifetime. I learned to trust and respect others, but I think most
importantly, to trust and respect myself.‖ -- Nativ Seminar graduate
"I have grown so much and, thanks to you and Nativ, I can now live my life not being
scared about what people think of me." -- Nativ Seminar graduate
―This program helped shaped my current life and changed my future life for the better.‖
-- Nativ Seminar graduate
A letter from the parents of a Nativ Seminar graduate
By Rich and Tanya Abronson
We had been looking for a safe place where our daughter could express herself, talk
about the issues she faces as a teenager, and deepen her relationships with peers in a
constructive, positive and supportive way. I suppose one could say that Nativ found us as
a solution to our search.
Our daughter has really taken to Nativ's philosophy – one that blends a progressive,
modern approach with Jewish values and traditions. In fact, we find that the program is
very much in alignment with our own values and is something that is much needed in the
Jewish community. While we wholeheartedly support traditional Jewish youth groups and
programs, the context that Nativ creates goes a level deeper to really help our daughter
explore herself and her relationship with the world.
While we remain the most important guiding force in her life, we also realize that, as a
teenager, our daughter is going to be greatly influenced by her peer group -- at times
even more so by them than by us. The way the teens in Nativ are coached to lead and
support each other gives our daughter additional peer guidance that will undoubtedly
help our her navigate the modern teenage world that will follow her into adulthood. In
fact, our daughter is learning how to lead and set an example that other teens can follow
and this not only strengthens her own sense of self-esteem, but it means that she can
become an agent of tikkun olam (healing the world) in her own way.
A letter from a parent of a Nativ Seminar graduate
Hi Beth and Rabbi Redner,
I just want you to know how much I appreciate this sacred and special involvement you
have with these young teenagers. No one prepares us, as parents, to really deal with
teens. The easy part is when they are young, when they are easily distracted,
unconditionally adore mommy and daddy, when tasks like changing diapers and giving a
bath are not chores but moments I long for now. A kiss on a boo boo, or hurt feelings just
doesn't help as readily for the emotional turbulence they are going through now.
It's not my job as a parent to be my child's friend. It's my job to provide my children the
structure and stability of boundaries - at a time in their lives when they are trying to
challenge those boundaries a parent needs to be strong. However, now more than ever
in their lives they do need a friend. An adult whom they can look up to and see as a role
model, especially when mommy is ―out of her mind‖ and just can't possibly understand!!!!!
Unfortunately, kids today have too much permission from our society and too many "rights"
(the right to feel good every minute of every day, and if they don't something must be
innately wrong with them), but with little societal structure of right and wrong, good and
evil. The hardest part of being a parent of a teenager is that my child is no longer
confiding in me, the one person who loves her most and aches for her to excel and grow
into the person she dreams of becoming – but even more scary than that is knowing that
she is confiding in someone, someone else who may not share my values and outlook on
what is right and wrong or good and evil.
I appreciate that you both understand the unique gift you have to reach these kids and
influence their lives. The mere fact that you wrote the letter to the parents that you did
has given me a better sense of security to trust that you are filling my daughter with the
values and outlook similar to mine and my husband's.
Kol Tov. Thank you for loving my daughter.