Ruth Schapira

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

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’, beginning in high school when I started tutoring, then teaching in supplementary schools. I did this even while working full-time at my “real” job.

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, through the lens of Jewish teens.

I’ve spent many years teaching in supplementary schools, and almost as much time at Camp Ramah (17 years as camper, counselor, teacher, advisor, Assistant Director). This adds up to (yikes) over 35 years of  experience working in formal and informal settings. (I hate those descriptors by the way, the best of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ education is really not one approach, or even two, but a combination).

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 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 tons of funds are thrown their way, from free trips to Israel, service trips abroad, and funded fellowships. Those are just some of the goodies.

Teens are our future, and we need to pay attention to them if we want to change the future. I write for those of us working with Jewish teens: 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 my own thoughts based on my daily experience working with and for Jewish teens. Recently appointed as the Director, I’ve been working for over 12 years at one of the country’s largest supplementary community high schools. Jewish teens who have opted to continue their education past the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah are a rare breed, and I think we owe them a great experience.

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.

Connect with me here or 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s