Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

JFGO introduces the Jewish Teen Education Network (JTEN)


The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando announces the establishment of Jewish Teen Education Network (JTEN), an innovative response to the changing needs of today’s teens. JFGO hopes this initiative will act as a clearing house for all Jewish teen education in Central Florida.

For more than two decades, Jewish teens have come together to engage in Jewish learning through Beit Hamidrash (the Community Hebrew High School). During this time, more than one thousand teens have come through its doors. As times change and the expectations of teenagers continue to increase, the program has adapted as well. Today’s teens are under tremendous pressure to build a college resume. With so much at stake, teens are often forced to make a choice between Jewish education and other activities. At the same time, in the past few years, the synagogues have introduced new ways to keep teenagers involved and engaged, such as Madrichim (teachers’ assistants) program, which has become very popular with teens. It is with these changes in mind that JFGO has decided to retire the Beit Hamidrash model to make way for JTEN.

“We have been very fortunate over the years to have the community’s support and participation in Beit Hamidrash. Many have stepped up to teach classes to our teens. This passion from rabbis, educators, and community members has been the hallmark of what made Beit Hamidrash so special. Today, it is imperative that we respond to the changes in the Jewish community and try new approaches,” reflects Lisa Sholk, Beit Hamidrash Director.

The Jewish community of Greater Orlando has many offerings for our community’s Jewish teens. Teens have opportunities through synagogues to participate in youth groups such as USY and GORFTY. These are connected to national movements and offer students the opportunity to attend regional and national conventions. BBYO has three local chapters in Maitland, Oviedo and South Orlando that offer nondenominational programming and connections to national events as well. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando offers sports programs, J-Serve, JCC Maccabi Games, and camp programs for teens.

JFGO’s continued commitment to Jewish teen education will be the cornerstone of all of JTEN’s initiatives. JTEN’s first initiative will offer grants to synagogues and community agencies that provide Jewish educational opportunities for teens. Grant applicants will be required to meet specific requirements including course length, staff qualifications, and program content. The grants will also require that all courses must be open to all Central Florida teens, regardless of affiliation. Other initiatives will include community-wide teen education days (the first will be held on November 9, 2014), providing resources and networking opportunities for Jewish educators, as well as awarding grants for organized teen Israel trips made possible by the Ronald Coleman Israel Scholarship Fund.

J-Ten is one of the many initiatives of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando that highlights its innovative edge and attention to the community’s needs. Through its programs and services, the Jewish Federation makes an impact on the future of Jewish Orlando.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando has been in existence for over 60 years. The Jewish Federation’s mission is to nurture a unified Jewish community that transcends generations and neighborhoods. It is a part of a national umbrella organization, the Jewish Federations of North America, which represents 155 Jewish Federations in the US, raises and distribute more than $3 billion annually for social services and educational needs. The Federation movement collectively is among the top 10 charities on the continent, protecting and enhancing the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of charity, social justice and learning. For more information about the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando please visit http://www.jfgo.org.


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