Field News

Habonim Dror are saying a fond farewell to its Executive Director Gary Sakol, who will be taking up a new communal role as the Executive Director at Westminster Synagogue. Belinda Copitch will be starting on 24th April as Habo’s Executive Director.  Belinda holds a PhD in Jewish Identity and is an experienced Manchester based communal leader.

Both Belinda and Gary have much experience in the field of Jewish youth provision – we wish them huge success in their new roles.

Reform Judaism announced the appointment of Josh Martin as Informal Education Director. He will be heading the Youth Department, taking responsibility for RSY-Netzer and Jeneration, Reform Judaism’s student and young adult initiative, as well as helping Reform communities to develop their informal education work for young people.

Josh joins Reform Judaism from JCoSS, the UK’s first Jewish cross-denominational secondary school where he has taught physics since 2012. B’hatzlacha Josh!

Reform Judaism has announced a groundbreaking new appointment setting a new precedent for young people’s mental health care in the Jewish community. Mark Greenfield, a previous participant in Reshet’s Professional Development Programme, will be Young People’s Mental Health Welfare Officer. This role is a brilliant educational initiative, we wish Mark all the best!

Shelley’s 4 Questions

1984 was my year of freedom. I had finished school and headed off to Jerusalem, spending my Gap Year with other young people from Jewish communities across the globe.  After a few months of freedom, I began to ponder the balance between freedom and hedonism.

How was I differentiating between my independent choices and self-indulgence? What constituted self-satisfaction and how did that differ from self-determination?

To put that into a Gap Year context, what did I choose to do – given the lack of boundaries and parental control?  What informed my decision making?

Moshe Chaim Luzzatto wrote in Derech Hashem (“The Way of God”) that

 “People are placed between perfection and deficiency, with the power to earn perfection. People must earn this perfection, however, through their own free will… “

Celebrating Pesach (Passover), a festival, which tells our story of freedom as a people, is a great time to reflect on the how we achieve a balance when we are offered personal freedom.

Parents often debate how much freedom is an appropriate amount for children and young people.  If young people have too much freedom, they might ‘go wild’.’ However, if young people do not have freedom, perhaps they may lack independence and possibly struggle to become self-sufficient.

Giving young people free will is often challenging for educators, parents and young people themselves.  Decision-making is an essential part of being a free person.  And setting boundaries for oneself needs to figure into the mix too.

Being free to think for oneself and deciding on what feels right at any given time, in any situation, is one of the challenges of freedom.  Asking questions of yourself and of the young people around you, may help to fathom the balance that freedom offers.

It’s traditional at this time of year to ask four questions.  Here are mine.

  • How do we balance giving young people freedom to make their decisions?
  • How do we support young people when they change their minds?
  • What does being free mean to you?
  • What learning might happen in the ‘wilderness years’ that helps a person develop?

Part of our role as educators is to guide and support each individual, as they leave the construct of childhood, into the wilderness of learning how to be themselves.

Some of us stay in that wilderness for a pretty long time…  And in my opinion, that’s ok.  There’s lots to discuss, plenty to think about and a great deal to learn on the journey.


Safer Dating

By Claire Godley

This week saw the launch of Safer Dating – a new initiative from Jewish Women’s Aid which aims to raise (more…)

Susie Fraser

Susie Fraser at Reshet’s Healthy Relationships Conference 2017: Top tips for those working with young people (more…)

Rachel Fink

Rachel Fink at Reshet’s Healthy Relationships Conference 2017: Supporting teenage girls in the Jewish community (more…)

Shelley Marsh

Shelley Marsh at Reshet’s Healthy Relationships Conference 2017: Working with young people (more…)