November 1st 2018
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben
Hi, I am Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, and I started Home Shalom two years ago as a campaign for every synagogue in America to become a safe haven from domestic violence and to raise awareness about the continued existence of domestic abuse in the Jewish community. In partnering with Naomi Ackerman and The Advot Project, our work over the past year has focused primarily on creating healthy relationship workshops for teens in synagogues, Jewish day schools, community centers, camps and anywhere where Jewish teens gather. 🙌
Our dream is that everyone, youth and adults alike, will come to know that what they say matters, what they do matters, and who they are matters. We hope the teens we work with will come to know that Jewish tradition was teaching the truth when it stated that every human being is created B’tzelem Elohim, in the divine image, and therefore has undeniable, fundamental, spiritual self-worth. When the Torah teaches, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), it means that in order to show love, compassion, caring, and respect for others, we must love ourselves first. ❤️
Every month in this newsletter I will share wisdom from Jewish tradition that helps point us in the direction of knowing our own self-worth and applying it to our relationships with others. Our dream is that the tools we share here will inspire and empower you to know that you can make a difference in the world and be a source of inspiration to others as well.
Naomi Ackerman
Shalom, Hello and Greetings! 🙏
I am so excited to use the platform of this newsletter to share with you the exercises and methods we have been implementing to promote healthy communication skills in our teen workshops. 😍 We hope you will use these exercises, implement them with your youth, your staff, and anyone you work with or are in a relationship with.
How amazing would it be to live in a world where we practice saying what we mean, what we want, and most importantly what hurts us? 😳
In every newsletter, we will share one of our exercises and the thoughts and methods behind it. 👀 
We are here to guide and explain further, whenever necessary. Please feel free to email us with any questions and or concerns! homeshalomla@gmail.com 💜
Adinah Singer-Frankes
Hi, my name is Adinah Singer-Frankes. I am almost 16 years old and a student at Hamilton High School’s Humanities Magnet. This year, I will serve as Home Shalom’s Teen Advisory Council Representative. I will be working with Home Shalom to focus a teen lens on this year’s theme, self-worth. 😁
This year, as a female jewish teenager, I was finally able to accept and understand myself for who I am. I am a person who is confident and interested in her Jewish identity. I struggle with it to the point of frustration, and I embrace it with love and intention. My Jewish identity is something that I and the people I surround myself with can identify about me. My friends and family know that I love to lead services; they know I love to learn Torah, and last, they know I love to question every verse of every text I read. 👓
However, until this summer, I never chose to question anything else. I kept my lens focused on Jewish texts and teachings, and because of this, I didn't realize that everything around me should also be questioned. I never thought about my first kiss, or my first time. It didn’t matter to me. When it happened it happened, and it wasn't happening now. I didn’t think it was gross and disgusting. I just wasn’t experiencing it for myself. 😘
As I observed the hook-up culture at camp and in my youth group, I began to get nervous. Why didn’t any of these boys like me? None of it made sense to me because I had never wanted to notice it before. As I asked my friends who they thought would be a good first kiss for me, I realized that all of the guys… were guys. Since I had never thought about my first kiss, I had never thought about the gender expression of the other person. I am and was very sure that I was a woman but what about the person I was going to kiss? ❤️ 💛 💚 💙 💜
This led to the journey I am on now. With help from some of the best young adults in the whole world (my counselors at camp), I was able to start my adventure into understanding that I am not only a female Jewish teenager but, a female, Jewish, bisexual teenager. My deeper (not perfect) self-understanding helped me to be even more confident in the things I already loved. I am now able to apply my sexuality to my Jewish identity, simply to create myself: Adinah. In addition, this experience has taught me the importance of exploring new ideas and experiences. My entire life revolved around Judaism (which hasn’t changed), but now I get to show more sides about myself that no one ever knew were hidden inside. This adventure has enhanced my self love and self worth. I am now more the person I strive to be every single day.
I was missing something crucial to finally fully express myself, and my self-worth. I was missing the role models and “camp counselors” outside of camp. I needed someone (or 10 people) to just sit with me and listen. I needed to cry, I needed to laugh, and I needed to learn things about myself through communication. Be that camp counselor your students need.
Naomi Ackerman
The key to healthy relationships is communication ! 😍
At Home Shalom, we believe the first step to communication is compassionate listening.
This is the first tenet we teach...
In a debate or argument, don’t just wait to be the next person to speak. Instead, practice listening to, recognizing, and integrating the other person’s opinions into what you are saying and sharing. Use what the other person is saying to make your point even clearer. If that person feels that you are truly listening to them, you will likely be able to more easily reach an agreement.
Naomi Ackerman
Exercise :
Pros/Cons to explore compassionate listening
1. Ask for one volunteer from the group.
2. The participant will need to share pros and cons of a given subject (i.e.: attending their school, standardized tests, vegetarianism, etc. Get an idea of a juicy subject to explore from the group.)
3. The participant must come up with 1-2 positive things (pros) about that subject, then the facilitator will clap hands, 👏 at which point, the participant will share 1-2 negative things (cons) about the subject. The facilitator will clap hands again 👏 and the participant will go back and forth from negative to positive. If the participant is having a hard time, have others from the group help him/her.
4. Summarize the exercise. For example, “If I don’t want to be a vegetarian because I like eating meat, telling me to have compassion for animals isn’t going to convince me to try vegetarianism. But if I hear from the person I’m debating with that there are many supplements today that taste exactly like meat, THIS would be addressing the issue that I am raising against it.
Being a compassionate listener is hearing what someone is saying to me and responding to that, not just, persisting with my point of view. 👐
Remember :
“To act” in Hebrew is “Le’sachek,” which literally means "To play". We encourage you to go and play!! 😜
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