For my first event I attended a talk from a holocaust survivor that was presented at the Jewish Community Center in Providence. Not only was this talk educational, inspiring, and an experience like no other, it was also beneficial to me in many other ways.
While waiting for the presentation to begin I wondered through the halls that were filled with vibrant colored posters that advertised for the youth programs that were held in the same building. Interested to find out more, I then went home and went onto their website where I had found an abundant amount of information in regards to their work with youth. Here is just a little of what I found…
Under this link I then found programs that are offered for all ages from toddlers to young adults. The program I found to be the most interesting was the Mothers Circle. The Mothers Circle welcomes women from all faiths and heritages who are raining Jewish Children. This program offers support to mothers and their entire family. This program allows mothers to connect with other moms, learn customs and ethics, and also tap into Jewish resources through out the community.
Interested in what else this program has to offer, I attended a meeting. At the meeting I was surprised by how welcomed and accepted into the group of mothers I was. Though, I stated that I was not a mother but a student who was interested in learning more, they welcomed me with open arms. They explained how much support and impact this program has been for them as mothers and how it has helped their children grow and develop into the children that they are now.
As I continue hours within my internship, I have come across several children who have told me they are Jewish but are not comfortable sharing that with their peers. It was hard for me to be a support to them for I wasn’t sure exactly why they felt this way. In todays time religion has become a topic that many are scared to share and talk about. During this group meeting I went to, I had shared this information with the mothers and they were not surprised. They explained how many of their children once felt that way, because they were seen as the minority and simply over looked. The mothers taught me ways to encourage these students to embrace who they are, leaded me to more informational sites that I could give to these children, and also gave me flyers to pass out for summer programs/camps that the children could attend.
Over all, I thought that this experience was terrific. Not only was I able to learn from these women more about the Jewish faith, I was able to help my own students be comfortable with who they are and allow them to be able to feel confident enough to share who they are. As a youth worker it is important to me that I create spaces in which children can share who they are and not feel scared or embarrassed to do so. It is important to be that I create a space where everyone is accepted no matter their religion, race, gender, etc. I strongly believe that the first step to being able to do this is by learning about other religions, cultures, ethnics (etc.). How will our youth be able to entrust in us who they are if we are not willing to learn about who they are.