JWI and USY Bring Healthy Relationship Training to Teens

March 31, 2009

CONTACT: Ann Rose Chefitz

Groundbreaking Partnership Between JWI and USY
Brings Healthy Relationship Education for Teens

Washington, DC- Jewish Women International (JWI) and United Synagogue Youth (USY) have formed a unique partnership to help USY teens navigate interpersonal relationships. This is the latest in a series of JWI programs that teach Jewish teens to make sound decisions, despite the contrary messages our culture sends them. JWI’s partnership with USY, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s youth department, will include training at USY’s 2009 International Convention and follow-up programming, – based on a JWI-authored sourcebook for a healthy relationship curriculum. It could reach more than 14,000 USY members in peer settings. The material looks at friendship, dating relationships, respect, communication, and bodies and souls, all supported by relevant text study.

USY’s membership is the largest group of Jewish teens ever offered training on interpersonal relationships. The initiative builds on JWI’s 20-year commitment to healthy relationship education and significantly furthers its goal to make such training a standard part of every child’s Jewish education.

“This partnership offers USY a trailblazing opportunity to use Jewish teachings to guide teens through the tough decisions they face in their relationships,” said USY Director Jules Gutin. “We are excited to combine our resources and make this invaluable tool available to our teenagers.”

In 2005, JWI created the first national Jewish educational program to address dating abuse, When Push Comes to Shove…It’s No Longer Love!® Since then JWI has released a succession of healthy relationship programs for Jewish youth of all ages. Strong Girls: Friendships, Relationships & Self-Esteem, its complement program Good Guys: Partnership & Positive Masculinity, and others in the series have reached thousands of teens nationwide.

“It is incumbent upon us as parents, educators, and leaders to give our children the crucial skills to navigate relationships – not just in their teen years, but throughout their lives,” said JWI Executive Director Loribeth Weinstein. “Teen dating violence does affect the Jewish community. Today, while the issue so prominent in the public consciousness, is an ideal time to start the dialogue with our kids.”

Dating relationships start younger than most adults realize: Nearly half of 11- to 14-year olds say they have been in a dating relationship, and though most parents discuss relationships with their tweens, research indicates that they’re in the dark about the reality of those interactions. (Liz Claiborne, Inc, 2008).

JWI thanks The Hadassah Foundation and the Toby and Nataly Ritter Family Foundation for their generous involvement in helping to make the vital education of so many Jewish teens possible.

USY is the high school affiliate of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the association of Conservative synagogues, representing over two million Conservative Jews throughout North America. USY is comprised of 17 regions with over 400 local chapters. Along with its pre-teen affiliate, it includes 25,000 members throughout the United States and Canada. Founded in1913 by Dr. Solomon Schechter as the association of Conservative synagogues in North America, The United Synagogue serves as a resource to its affiliated congregations and works to formulate a Conservative Jewish response to pressing social and religious issues.

Jewish Women International is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education, and the proliferation of women’s leadership. Our innovative programs, advocacy, and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength. For more information, please visit www.jwi.org or contact us at 800.343.2823.

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