One does not need to be the parent of a teenager to know that our teens have a lot going on in their lives. From extra-curricular activities to increasingly competitive courses to responsibilities to their passions, their friends and their families (in no particular order), we all know that the 21st century teenager has plenty to do.

temple teen night 1While Temple Teen Night is one more program to add to this list, it’s intent is quite the opposite. Temple Teen Night is Temple Israel’s program exclusively created for our teens. The goal of this Wednesday night program for 8th-12th graders is to continue to show them that Temple Israel is a home for them between the years of B’nai Mitzvah and college. Specifically, we hope that by the end of their senior year in high school our students will say that Temple Israel is not just the synagogue where they had their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but it is their second Jewish home. It is the place where they know they have clergy who love them. The place where they connect with peers they’ve known since preschool. It is a place where they can ask any question, whether it be about kashrut or politics, sexuality or theology.

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Above all else, Temple Teen Night is a space for our teens to simply be themselves in a safe, supportive and comforting Jewish environment. At soccer practice they may be challenged to run faster, at school they may be challenged study longer and at home, they may face their own adolescent questions as to who they are beyond the only family they have ever known. Temple Teen Night is their opportunity to figure out who they are as budding adults, who they are as individuals and how their Jewish community will help them answer these questions in a safe and thoughtful environment.

temple teen night 2For these reasons, our Temple Teen Nights will balance time eating together, learning together and hanging out with our clergy, community leaders and potential mentors for our teens. Beyond our Wednesday night gatherings, each grade level will also have the opportunity to travel with each other every year with either Rabbi Azriel, Rabbi Brown or Cantor Shermet.

We look forward to sharing this time with our Temple teens. We look forward to their energy filling the building and their questions challenging our community. Most importantly, we look forward to them continuing to find Temple Israel to be their Second Jewish home.