High School Program Brings Jewish Teens Together

Shalshelet is the Hebrew word for chain, and a fitting name for a program bringing together Jewish teens of all denominations from across the Lehigh Valley.

Shalshelet meets twice a month and there is a different topic for each session. The topics are chosen by the feedback of past students and typically focus on social justice, Israel and sensitive teen issues such as peer pressure, sexual ethics, racial tension, interfaith relationships, personal definitions of Jewish identity, questioning authority, accepting differences and many more diverse issues. A guest presenter introduces each topic and facilitates a discussion with an emphasis on viewing the issue through a Jewish lens.

Included in Shalshelet are all 10th through 12th grade Jews of any denomination and level of Jewish education because diversity in a connected group is what makes this program so enriching. Each session begins with dinner and time to bond with new friends. There is a hands-on mitzvah project executed on Martin Luther King Day and an optional yearly trip. Past trips have included exploring Jewish immigration in the Lower East Side, visits to the U.N. and 9/11 museum, and participating in the Panim El Panim conference in Washington, D.C.

"Shalshelet was a great way for me to hear my friends' opinions on relevant topics and what mattered to them while in a safe space,” said Naomi Pitkoff, a Shalshelet graduate. “It opened up my eyes to how people view the world differently. Shalshelet was a great way for me to stay involved in the Jewish community throughout my time in high school.”

To sign up for the Shalshelet program, contact Temple Beth El at 610-435-3521 or alicia@bethelallentown.org.