Ruth Schapira

Why I’ve devoted my recent career to advocate for the Jewish Community

I didn’t start out as a Jewish educator.  I began my professional career as a Career Development Consultant*, and Jewish education was ‘something I always did on the side’, often while working full-time at my “real” job. I began working in Jewish education by tutoring while in high school, then teaching in supplementary schools while in college and beyond, and finally taking on a position as an Education Director at a synagogue.

The work attracted my passion slowly but resolutely and when I was offered the opportunity to work in Jewish camping full-time, I grappled with the challenge of giving up a career that had been very rewarding to me over the years. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I had to make.

It’s been over a dozen years since I began as a full-time Jewish educator.  I’ve never looked back, and I’d like you to care about the future of Judaism as much as I do, often through the lens of Jewish teens.

I hope that the many years I spent teaching in supplementary schools, and working in camping (17 years as camper, counselor, teacher, advisor, Assistant Director). will add authenticity to my blog posts and distill over 35 years of  experience working in formal and informal settings. I don’t mind shaking things up a bit, and would like you to journey with me as we envision a different future for Jewish teens.

*Career Development Consultant. I know that seems odd, working with others on Career Development, and  changing my career. Careers are not static, but instead are reflective of individual growth, being ever in a state of change and development.   The trick is to explore those paths!}

About the Blog: I want to challenge your assumptions, get you to think about the issues in different ways, and ultimately, try to get you to care about the Jewish community. My heart goes out especially to Jewish teens.  Why? Because we are experiencing a crisis of commitment and they are an underserved population, that is until they get to the college campus.

Then program funding is available, from free trips to Israel, service trips abroad, and fellowships. Those are just some of the offerings. However, in the precious years from grade 8 (after Bar/Bat Mitzvah) to grade 12, beyond youth group and camp (great programmatic options) there’s not much more that’s compelling on a regular basis. 

Teens are our future, and we need to pay attention to them if we want to change the leadership paradigm. I write for those of us working in the Jewish community: teachers, administrators, parents, counselors, advisers  This is where I can share news, information, ideas, thoughts, concepts, and new programs with you.

Disclaimer: what I write about are thoughts based on my experiences. Having been the Director of one of the country’s largest supplementary community high schools for close to 15 years, I’ve seen the issues up close.

Please share your thoughts and comments! If you find it helpful to pass along a blog or two, please attribute appropriately and above all else, please let me know where you’ve shared it. It’s very gratifying to hear that my blog has made its rounds to Boards of Director meetings, Education Committee meetings, and more. I think we can change things….and I’m heartened that it has already started to happen!

Click here to read the most popular blog from last year (care to guess what it’s about?), plus check out summaries of the most viewed blogs here.

Please subscribe to the blog, or connect with me on Twitter: @ruthschapira

6 responses to “About

  • Elisa Heisma

    Hi! Very nice and helpful blog. One question do you accept submissions from other Jewish bloggers as guest writers?

    • Ruth Schapira

      Dear Elisa, Hi, thanks for writing and reading! Yes, I’d be happy to review what you’ve written via an e-mail and would certainly post here if it fits within the framework of this blog. ~Ruth

  • Ravit Bar-Av

    Dear Ruth,

    I have read many of your posts and as a mother of two Jewish/Israeli teens I have always relate to your optimistic concern about the future :) For me, being Jewish is way beyond religion – just like you wrote in one of your recent blogs. I am trying to teach my kids that concept and hopefully with time and maturity it will sink. I also learned that for them, our visits to Israel are the most meaningful way to connect with their heritage and the best way to build their identity as individuals who belong to a much bigger entity. Recently I have learned about Naale Elite Academy http://www.elite-academy.org which is now also a program I represent in the US. Elite Academy is a HS initiative in Israel fully covered by the Israeli Education Ministry and the Jewish Agency, where Jewish kids entering 10, 11 and 12 grade can apply for studies in Israel. Families can choose the appropriate school according to their level of observance and their kids will learn Hebrew, acquire an Israeli HS diploma and will find that deep connection to their heritage. If any of your readers would like to learn more they are welcome to write me at naale.eusa@gmail.com
    As always, I look forward to your next post,

    Ravit Bar-Av

    • Ruth Schapira

      Dear Ravit,
      Thank you for your interest in reading about Jewish teens. It sounds like you’re focused on teaching your kids all the right things, and your commitment through your actions and especially manifested in your choice of career, will teach them a whole lot about what’s important to you.
      Kol tuv,

  • rfaintich


    If you would like to cross post your blog to the Kehillah Co-Operative (the new national virtual community for Jewish youth professionals) we would love for you to do so. (www.kehillahco-op.groupsite.com) Feel free to just copy/paste the content and note it as cross-posted in our Blog section.

    Kol haKavod,
    Robyn Faintich

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