Resources from Rethinking Your College Gameplan

On December 18, Moving Traditions hosted a webinar, Rethinking Your College Gameplan, for parents and educators of Jewish teens. Thank you to our panel of speakers, including:

  • Rabbi Daniel Brenner, Moving Tradition’s VP of Education
  • Deborah Heller, director of College Counseling at the Beacon School in New York and the founder of Impact College Consulting
  • Maiya Edelson, Vice President of Organizational Learning and Development at Hillel International
  • Caleb Levine, a sophomore at Harvard University
  • Laine Schlezinger, a junior at George Washington University and Moving Traditions Tzelem group leader

We offer you these resources and takeaways from the webinar to use with the teen in your life.

Watch the Recording

Deciding Where to Go

Within parameters that are unique to each family (top among them financial considerations), teens should be empowered with the ultimate decisions about where (and when/and sometimes if) to go to college. It is a parent’s job to help them make an informed decision and find a good fit.  In addition to universal questions like the size of the school, topics they want to study, and tuition, talk with your teen about what they are looking for in Jewish life on campus:

Ask your teen:
  • What do you think constitutes a good campus culture for Jewish students?
  • How does Jewish life on a specific campus you are interested in fit with your expression and commitment to Jewish life? What challenges might Jewish life on that campus present to you?
  • You may also want to discuss how important is it to them to have access to:
    • a range of Shabbat services/or the kind of services they are used to
    • places to share holiday meals and celebrations
    • faculty or rabbis with whom to study Jewish history, text, languages
    • people or clubs with a range of perspectives or a specific perspective about Israel
  • How important is it to you to meet new Jewish friends on campus? How do you think you will do so if it is important?
  • Do you anticipate wanting to engage with other Jews socially? Around issues social justice? political debate and advocacy?  

Many teens today are experiencing challenges with peers, professors, and administrators around Israel, the war in Gaza, the plight of the Palestinians, and the rise in antisemitism on campus.

Ask your teen:
  • Do you and your friends talk about what’s happening in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank?
  • Has a difference in opinion or perspective impacted your relationship with your friends?
  • Do you have any concerns about how the current situation is impacting Jewish life on campus?
  • Part of attending college is coming into contact with people from lots of different backgrounds with a range of opinions on many issues that matter to you. What skills can you use to have constructive conversations about challenging issues? What skills do you want to strengthen while you are in college or before you get there through a Gap year or a fellowship program?

Political and Geographic Implications

Teens and parents may have concerns about colleges in states that have or may criminalize abortion or trans-health care. They may also be seeking colleges that are likely to be better environments for Jews, people of color, LGBTQ people, women, or people who share other aspects of their identities that are important to them.  

Ask your teen:

  • How might you find out what it’s like to be a person who shares your values or identities on any particular campus you are considering? What can you find out about laws that could impact you in a state where you are considering going to college?
  • Are there people from your summer camp or youth movement that you can talk to about their experience on campus to help inform your decision?

Additional Resources

In the Shadow of War: Hotspots of Antisemitism on US College Campuses, Brandeis University

Hillel College Guide

Growing Together Through Conflict

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