JumpSpark recognized early on that parents are an essential component to an engaged and healthy Jewish teen population. In response, JumpSpark launched Navigating Parenthood in 2018. Over the past two years JumpSpark has hosted 16 Navigating Parenthood workshops, panels and films across Atlanta equipping almost 400 parents with the network and resources to raise thriving Jewish teens.
Now in 2020, Navigating Parenthood is entering an exciting new phase with the addition of Amy Fox as Navigating Parenthood Coordinator. Amy is no stranger to the challenges of parenting Jewish teens in Atlanta today. She is the mother of boy/girl twins who graduated from The Epstein School and are currently in their junior year at Riverwood International Charter School. She is also deeply rooted in the Atlanta Jewish community serving as a Wexner Heritage Fellow, Lion co-chair for Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy division, advisory board member of the Atlanta Jewish Foundation, member of the ACT (Agents of Change Training) Cohort for the Jewish Women’s Fund, and an alumna of the Frank Mission to Poland and Israel. Last summer she was able to connect with many of the parents in the community through her work as co-Chair of Administration for the 2019 JCC Atlanta Maccabi Games.
Instead of starting with more Navigating Parenthood events, phase one of Amy’s part-time work will be to launch a listening campaign across the community to learn more about both parents needs and their challenges.
Reflecting on why her new position with JumpSpark is important, Amy shared,
“As teen parents, for sure there can be rewarding moments, but these moments can be accompanied by the feeling of being isolated, ill-informed, and questioning one’s ability to support our kids and assist them along the road to becoming independent well-adjusted adults. One has the sense of being all alone in this endeavor, when, there are so many teen parents dealing with the exact same issues”
JumpSpark is invested in the parents in our community and wants to create a strong partnership to meet their needs and the needs of their teens. Amy’s new role is full of potential to create the resources, programming and networks that are needed to do just that.
Are you the parent of Jewish teens in Atlanta? Amy would love to meet with you, hear your story, and bring you along on this journey. She can be contacted at AmyFox.ATLteen@gmail.com.
First published by the Atlanta Jewish Times ›
With the objective of transforming the way Jewish teens can engage each other, an exciting new program launched in Atlanta called the Atlanta Kesher Teen Engagement Fellowship.
With the objective of transforming the way Jewish teens can engage each other in the Jewish community, an exciting new program launched in Atlanta called the Atlanta Kesher Teen Engagement Fellowship. The program is run by the Union for Reform Judaism and funded in part by a JumpSpark grant through the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
The fellowship is based on the peer-to-peer engagement method that began in the Northeast and has been scaled to the Atlanta community. It emphasizes the impact Jewish teens can have on each other through face-to-face interaction.
“I think this program is a great example of having an inner circle of teens that are getting a huge amount of leadership training and mentorship and strengthening their own Jewish identities, and then impacting a much wider circle of teens throughout the community,” said Adam Griff, Kesher Teen Engagement Fellowship director. “They’re being empowered to co-create with their network these new events.”
The teens will develop social and leadership skills and receive mentoring from experts in peer-to-peer engagement. The program is designed to allow busy teens to participate by managing their own time and at the end, each fellow receives a $200 stipend.
“This model is unique in the Jewish teen landscape,” Bobby Harris, director of URJ Camp Coleman said in a press release. “The teen fellows are creating experiences that are fun and meaningful for them and their friends, instead of just trying to bring them to large-scale programming. Like the chavurah or ‘small circle’ model, this is about friends connecting to friends and building circles of peers living Jewish lives.”
The teens chosen through the application process range from 12 different high schools and six synagogues across metro Atlanta. The fellowship chose applicants who already have a strong Jewish identity and are involved and engaged in Jewish youth groups such as BBYO and NFTY or other high school clubs. “Not only do they represent a diverse range of Atlanta congregations, schools and neighborhoods, they are smart, passionate, and excited to be part of this endeavor,” Griff said in the release. “We know that building relationships is the key to increasing engagement. I feel confident that this group of teens will help us push the needle and reach teens that until now have stayed on the sidelines of Jewish life.”
The fellows are required to execute three pop-up events throughout the program that involve Jewish content, but the teens have some room to get creative. “This fellowship gives these teens the opportunity to think outside of the box; they are planning really unique programs for teens all around the metro Atlanta area,” said Jessie Schwartzman, Kesher Teen Fellowship engagement coordinator. She described one fellow who planned a Chanukah party at which the students made Chanukah cookies together. “We want their Jewish identity to translate on unengaged teens in Atlanta,” Schwartzman said. “We’re just really looking for ways to connect with teens on a different level.”
The program is having a positive impact on the teens involved, according to Schwartzman. “The fellows themselves who are part of this experience have really started to learn the value of leading a program – how to delegate tasks, what it means to share their Jewish story with others,” she said. “This type of training is not common in this generation; they’re so used to using their phones. [The fellows are] really learning the value of face-to-face communication.” This extends to a wider circle of Jewish teens who are being engaged by the fellows and growing in their Jewish connection.
The fellowship kickoff was Nov. 17. “I am excited to be a Kesher Fellow because I believe Jewish Atlanta is relying on today’s Jewish teens to ensure a strong Jewish Atlanta in the future,” Sophie Kieffer from Temple Sinai said in the release.
Schwartzman said that Atlanta is one of the few cities around the United States that’s participating in peer-to-peer training and they hope to expand their reach across the city. There are a growing number of organizations, such as OneTable, that are promoting this form of engagement with young adults, but it’s fairly new with teens, Griff said. “I think it’s exciting that Atlanta’s on the forefront of this.”