Building Community Among Jewish Teens
In 2008, on Boston’s North Shore, the Jim Joseph Foundation released funds to start a project called the North Shore Teen Initiative. The program was launched to break through some of the traditional territorial boundaries that exist in Jewish communities, and to approach Jewish youth engagement in a new way.
For many years, teens from the 23 North Shore communities seeking meaningful Jewish engagement had few options, particularly if they were unaffiliated with a specific temple or wanted to connect with friends outside their town or youth group. NSTI sought to fill this void by connecting Jewish teens to a broader base of their peers.
Inspiring greater participation in Jewish life by:
- Collaborating across the community to broadcast existing high-quality opportunities for participation, volunteerism, learning and social events
- Offering new, experientially based, programming rooted in Jewish values and learning
- Expanding opportunities to participate in top-quality programming in New England and beyond
Then and now, teens of all abilities, grades 8-12, who self-identify as Jewish are welcome. No previous membership at a synagogue, religious school education or other affiliation is required to participate.
While creating its own new programming, NSTI supports the efforts of existing organizations that serve Jewish youth. We link and partner with other organizations to develop a more coordinated spectrum of opportunities and to increase the network of teens.
Jewish life for teens here is now more exciting, accessible and rich with possibility. From volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, to enjoying ski days and making music, to “The Hub’s” interactive sessions on Jewish life or running the JCC’s Purim Carnival, NSTI offers a wide range of meaningful Jewish experiences.
Through these experiences, NSTI seeks to inspire teens to live active and vibrant Jewish lives, and to engage in ongoing Jewish learning, as they become adults.
Now entering our 7th year, we have the opportunity to re-examine the initial vision of better engaging teens in Jewish life, in order to effect their personal narrative and experience with Judaism pre-college.