By Noga Brenner Samia
The largely popular Moving Tradition’s Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! has hit the Israeli scene. Known by many throughout North American Jewry, Moving Tradition’s program has captivated thousands of teenage American girls, engaging them in thought provoking, meaningful and fun sessions strengthening their identity as strong Jewish women. Looking to bring the program to Israel, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles awarded a grant to Moving Traditions and together selected BINA, the Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture, to translate and adapt the Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Think! curriculum to fit the Israeli cultural landscape. A second Federation grant supported BINA’s launch of two successful pilot groups serving a total of 58 girls in underprivileged neighborhoods in Southern Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
In Israel and around the world today, Jewish adolescents are increasingly faced with many challenges relating to identity, body image and their place within Judaism and greater society. Girls, more than ever, are exposed to media portraying unhealthy models of sexuality and body image. Particularly in Israel, society can often be of a patriarchal nature, stemming from traditional Jewish culture, where female figures are mainly seen in domestic or secondary roles. Educators have noted that girls consistently demonstrate deficits in self-esteem and self-expression, and generally take “second place” to the leadership of boys in schools and community settings. Furthermore, girls are particularly overlooked when it comes to Jewish communal life. In many areas, particularly in underprivileged communities, exposure to egalitarian and feminist Jewish voices is extremely limited, if not non-existent.
Over the course of four months, the BINA Rosh Hodesh program carried out 8 sessions – four for girls-only and four together with their mothers. Women’s empowerment through healthy body image, an inclusive and egalitarian Judaism and positive friendships were some of the main messages of the program. Led by a trained facilitator, girls learned about positive and diverse role models of strong women from Judaism, as well as from within their own communities and families. Held in a safe and intimate space, the sessions instilled confidence in participants, allowing them to express themselves openly and listen and respect each other.
Beginning with these cohorts in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and continuing nationwide, BINA is working toward creating a society where girls grow into strong, confident and Jewishly enriched women, where women support and empower one another, where women can and should have an voice in the shaping of their religion, culture and community.
Noga Brenner Samia is Deputy Director at BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture.
For more information on Moving Traditions in North America please visit: movingtraditions.org/programs/rosh-hodesh-its-a-girl-thing/
For more information on BINA in Israel please contact [email protected]