What if your teenager or pre-teen could engage in the video gaming they love – while connecting with other Jewish kids in a safe, mensch-y environment in which to make friends? Now they can.

If you have a teenager or pre-teen in the house, you know how popular video games are with Generation Z. Gaming is part of the landscape for today’s teens — and has become, for many of them, a central part of their social life. And it’s here to stay:

Over 130 colleges have varsity esports programs, according to the National Association of Collegiate Sports, with most offering scholarships to attract the best talent. With brands like Disney, Amazon, Coke, and Nike investing billions in the space, it’s clear that esports will be part of the Generation Z experience for decades to come.

We created Lost Tribe Esports to give teens a chance to play the games they love in a Jewish environment. This builds on a long tradition of sports, camps and more in the Jewish community – meeting kids where they are to engage them in the community. Our founder, leaders and supporters are steeped in this experience and tradition.

Lost Tribe Esports is a safe platform for Jewish teens to connect with each other through video game competition—in a fun environment informed by Jewish values. We are a nonprofit organization, leveraging the popularity of gaming to bring teens together and foster positive Jewish identity and friendships. 

With generous support from JumpSpark, and in conjunction with the Marcus JCC and The Weber School, Lost Tribe Esports is launching in Atlanta this fall, with a series of online tournaments and in-person events.

How we keep things fun and safe:

  • We combine virtual, play-from-home tournaments with in-person social/gaming events, leading teens toward real, in-person friendships with Jewish peers.
  • We do not play “shooter” games. We play sports-based, strategy, and fantasy games like NBA2K, Minecraft, Super Smash Bros., Rocket League, etc. 
  • All communications in our online events are monitored by an adult
    staff person.
  • Our code of conduct is informed by Jewish values; participants are expected to act like a mensch.

To learn more about Lost Tribe Esports and to see our latest schedule of Atlanta-area events, please visit our website LostTribeEsports.org, or contact Lenny44@LostTribeEsports.org.

We look forward to working with families throughout Atlanta and welcome your questions and input. Together, we will offer teens a great new gaming experience, as they build Jewish friendships to last a lifetime. •

Upcoming Lost Tribe Esports events:

Armed with the knowledge that 1 in 5 youth experience a mental health challenge at some point in their life, and a grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation, JumpSpark (a Federation Innovation Initiative) is launching Youth Mental Health First Aid.  The program trains adults to better assist youth experiencing mental health challenges or crises. Participants learn how to spot signs and symptoms of mental health challenges from typical adolescent development, and how to respond to a youth who may be experiencing a crisis. Just like certified medical first aid/CPR responders, these adults will learn how to give assistance in crisis until appropriate professional help is received.

JumpSpark began the search earlier this year for two local candidates to be certified as Youth Mental Health First Aid trainers. JF&CS’s Clinical Services, run by Dan Arnold, LCSW, emerged as a strong community partner to drive this initiative. In September 2019, Rebecca Brown and Jaime Stepansky, licensed clinical social workers with JF&CS Atlanta, attended a three-day comprehensive training with Jewish professionals from across the country who are working toward improving overall teen wellness for Jewish youth.

“We want to address specific concerns facing our community and normalize that Jewish youth experience mental health challenges and crises, too,” said Stepansky. Rebecca Brown said, “Youth Mental Health First Aid is like taking a CPR/First Aid class. We don’t hesitate to be certified in CPR/First Aid, why should this be any different?”

JumpSpark is organizing dates in 2019-20 to train additional professionals, schools, and communities that work with teens, and even parents. “It’s important for adults to recognize the risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, and have solid strategies for how to help, said Kelly Cohen, Director of JumpSpark.” To learn more about Youth Mental Health First Aid, and how you can bring this training to your community, contact Kelly Cohen, JumpSpark Director.

Learn more about JF&CS’s Clinical Services at jfcsatl.org/services/clinical-services.

While a majority of Jewish teens will become b’nai mitzvah, many drop out of Jewish life soon after, leaving the Jewish community just when they’re figuring out who they are. To bridge that gap and not lose teens on their Jewish journey, JumpSpark is partnering with area synagogues and Jewish organizations to launch Moving Traditions teen groups and incorporate educational curriculum into existing programs throughout the city this school year. 

Moving Traditions connects the issues teens care about most – from body image, friendship, social and academic pressure, romance, and sexuality, to enduring Jewish values. The content fosters positive peer-to-peer relationships with trained educators and mentors, and inspires an ongoing connection to Jewish community.

Shevet, for teen boys in grades 8-12, reimagines the transition from boy to young man and gives teen boys a safe space to explore masculinity, friendship, and sense of purpose that Judaism has to offer. A B’nai Mitzvah program helps 6th and 7th graders and their parents develop strong communication and empathy as they prepare to become and parent a teen. Learn more about the programs and how to enroll your teen at an info session with Moving Traditions leadership and JumpSpark on Wednesday, October 30th.

Learn more about the Moving Traditions info session ››