Adolescence: crucial time for Jewish connection


At no greater time in a child’s life is a Jewish connection more important than adolescence. So why are so many teens tempted to abandon the tribe after they’ve worked so hard on their b’nai mitzvahs? I mean, if I remember correctly, the teenage years are tough enough without having a peer group to identify with. Yet for some reason, after the thank-you notes are written and the gift cards are spent, many young Jewish adults blend back into the melting pot of society and lose their Jewish selves.

Some b’nai mitzvah students discontinue religious school and never reach confirmation.

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Jewish educators believe that the teenage years are the most critical time for forming a child’s lifelong commitment to Judaism, and yet boys and girls don’t have to be students at Block Yeshiva High School to achieve this goal. In fact, the Jewish St. Louis community offers many exciting and fun ways for teens to bond with Jewish friends and further explore their religion and culture. Here’s a few ways to get started:

The JCC Maccabi Games is considered the largest Jewish teen event in the world, with more than 6,000 Jewish teens participating in various sports each summer. The Maccabi Games, which originated in 1982, offers a “life-and personality-shaping experience” to Jewish teenagers through Olympic style competition. Each athlete has the chance to participate in one of 14 sports that span the weeklong event, creating memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to athletic competition, the Games promote community involvement, teamwork, and pride in being Jewish. The St. Louis Maccabi Delegation tryouts will be held on Jan. 13 at the JCC Fox Building in Chesterfield.

Also coming up this month is a one-stop way for families to find about Jewish day camps, overnight camps, Jewish teen trips to Israel, and other specialized programs at the annual Jewish Summer Opportunities Fair on Jan. 27, at the JCC Wohl Building. For campers and counselors, these exciting opportunities span the entire religious and ideological spectrum of the Jewish community from this area and other regions.

The fair is a joint project of the Jewish Camp Directors Council of the St. Louis Central Agency for Jewish Education and Tips on Trips and Camps, a camp referral service with more than 35 years in the camping industry.

Also, for the latest Jewish teen happenings, check out Finally, the best way for young Jewish adults to strengthen their Jewish roots is for their parents to show them by example the rewards of an active Jewish life. Teens benefit the most when they celebrate the holidays, practice the rituals, attend services at temple, and do mitzvahs together with their families.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Currently, she is obsessing over everything for her son’s upcoming bar mitzvah invitations, so please feel free to send any advice to: [email protected] or visit her website at