Diller Miami Overcomes Pew Study Stats
Posted on 11/11/2022 @ 05:00 AM
Miami’s Diller Teen Fellows experienced Jewish Identity Shabbaton last weekend where they engaged in activities designed to help them reflect upon their own Jewish identities and come together as a group.
Diller Teen Fellows is Miami’s premier leadership development program for a select group of 20 Jewish teens entering grades 10 and 11.
Sometimes referred to as “Wexner for Teens,” the program provides a unique model for experiencing Jewish pluralism, understanding Jewish peoplehood, and developing a personal relationship with Israel and Israelis in a partnership city/town.
As it does every year, Diller represents the diversity of the Miami Jewish community, consisting of teens with varied genders, backgrounds, school, and synagogue affiliations.
One of the reasons that Diller Teen Fellows is such an important and transformative program for our community is that it brings together Fellows who identify as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Just Jewish.
As readers are no doubt aware, one of the most troubling statistics from the 2020 Pew Research Center report is that members of different branches of American Judaism generally do not feel they have “a lot” in common with one another. About half of Orthodox Jews in the U.S. say they have “not much” (23%) or “nothing at all” (26%) in common with Reform Jews, and a similar number of Reform Jews reciprocate those feelings: 39% say they have “not much” in common with the Orthodox and 21% say they have “nothing at all” in common.
Diller Teen Fellows is designed to overcome this disconnection between Jews through carefully constructed educational and social programing where they can explore their identities in relationship to their Judaism and their own religious ideas in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding.
In one such activity, Fellows were asked to study Parashat HaShavua/ the weekly Torah portion with one another. Coincidentally it was Parashat Lech Lecha, which some commentators translate as meaning “go to yourself,” providing a great platform for the teens to begin to think about who they are as leaders within the context of their Jewish identities.
During a chavruta text study, a Fellow from a Reform background was paired with a Fellow from an Orthodox background. In reflecting on their discussion, the teens were surprised that while they came from very different backgrounds, they mostly agreed on how they were understanding the texts that all Jews share in common.
Focusing particularly on their opinions of Kanye West/Ye and his public statements, teens discussed rising antisemitism. They also explored their varied understandings of God and how that impacted their lives.
Over and over, their one-on-one and group encounters built relationships that transcended the denominational divide.
Each teen was challenged to encounter new perspectives, learn new things, think deeply about themselves as individuals, and grow as a community despite their differences.
The Jewish Identity Shabbaton was a fun, formative, spiritual, and meaningful experience that brought the cohort together.
Through their ties with one another and what the Fellows learn over the year-long program, Diller helps to shape the Jewish world of the future.
Internationally, the program has graduated over 3,800 alumni-leaders actively engaged in improving the future of their communities, Israel, and the Jewish people.
For more information visit dillermiami.org