Raising Jewish Awareness in US Teens

The Jewish NGO Ayeka has just received funds to see if its unique adult Jewish education program will work on American Jewish teens.

Chana Ya'ar ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

A Jewish nonprofit organization has just received funding to create a junior version of its unique Jewish adult education course to raise spiritual awareness among American teens.

Ayeka, an NGO for Jewish spiritual growth, announced it has received a one-time grant of $95,000 from the AVI CHAI Foundation to fund the development of the course, to be called "Spiritual Living."

The course is designed to make Judaism more personally relevant, meaningful and transformative, according to a statement from the group.

It will be designed primarily for junior and senior high school students, and will include a replication model combining Jewish texts with experiential exercises.

Students at four Jewish high school across the U.S. will be the first participants to benefits from the program: Bridgeport's Jewish High School of Connecticut, Denver's Jewish Day School, Atlanta's Weber School and the Jewish Community High School of the Bay Area in San Francisco.

Ayeka founder and executive director Rabbi Aryeh Ben David noted that many Jewish high schools in the U.S. do a good job of transmitting Jewish knowledge, "but are less successful in helping their students create a personal relationship with G-d.

"Even high school courses on prayer often neglect this delicate and highly personal subject," he said.

The grant, he added, would enable Jewish students to "discover their own unique voice while seeking to develop a relationship with G-d... [and] to live more passionate and focused Jewish lives, regardless of their level of observance."

Founded in 2008, Ayeka offers workshops and seminars for Jewish adults throughout the U.S. and Israel, using course materials and "safe space" methods developed by Jewish educators based in Jerusalem.