"As our children grow up, they will make their own decisions: Children always do. But by sharing with them this experience, we can fortify them with Jewish wisdom before they go on their way."
-- Rabbi Eric Yoffie November 8, 2003, 13 Cheshvan 5764
One of the most exciting and anxiety-producing times in a family's life cycle is when a teen prepares to transition from life as a high school student to life on a college campus. We tell our children lech l'cha -- go off and find yourself -- and our children are only too eager to go forth. But have we given them the necessary tools for the trip ahead?
When they get to college, our students will come into contact and interact with students from all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. But when they are talking with their friends and questions come up about what Judaism believes in, will they know how to answer? Will they be able to explain Reform Judaism when faced with challenges from their more traditional peers? We teach in our schools the importance of the Land of Israel, but do we give our students the necessary knowledge about the complexity of the situation to face the attacks from the anti-Zionists? We want our students to live a Jewish life, but do we pack even the very basic items -- a Tanach, a Kiddush cup or candlesticks, and a mezuzah -- in their suitcases?
Packing for College: Where Does Judaism Fit? is a program from the Union for Reform Judaism designed to ensure that our students are ready for the challenges ahead. Created to support both teens and their parents as they make the transition from high school to college, Packing for College: Where Does Judaism Fit? provides congregations with a sorely needed program for the post-confirmation period while connecting families to the community during this transitional time in the family life cycle. Best of all, the Packing for College materials are available free to URJ congregations.
Packing for College can transform a time of tension and dissention into a time of exploration and communication; it can help make the transition period between high school and college a part of the life cycle of families, and it creates rituals to celebrate the transition.