Help Teens Recognize Their Own Jewish Values

Written by Behrman House Staff, 27 of May, 2014
Jewish Values in Game Form

By Eliana Schechter

Robyn Faintich’s Jewish Values Challenge card set offers people of all ages a chance to explore and discuss the values they find important. Each card lists one of 58 values in English, Hebrew, and transliteration, making them accessible to all players. The cards and the games that use them create a variety of ways for teens to reflect on and define their own values, while also considering them in a Jewish context. They also offer an opportunity to learn the Hebrew terms.

Rarely easy, and often unforgettable, the games promote new avenues of personal exploration among pre-teens and teens. “People struggle with [these values], as they’ve never had to consider them before,” said Faintich. She has long used these kinds of games for youth groups, religious schools, camp activities, and retreats.

Not only do the Jewish Values Challenge Cards provide a way to help learners clarify their own values, they also help learners recognize the influence of their Jewish background in them. In researching her dissertation topic, “Understanding How Jewish Teens Self-Articulate and Self-Express Jewish Identity and Jewish Identification,” Faintich said she found that many Jewish teens already have Jewish values instilled in them. “When I sit with kids outside of a Jewish context … hey’ll talk about things like respect … they start using the Hebrew and Jewish context for those values [without realizing it].” The Jewish Values Challenge Cards provide ways for Jewish students to become more aware of the broader contexts of the Jewish values they already hold, as well as the overlap between what they often think of as either distinctly secular or distinctly religious values.

This distinction between religious and secular values stands in contrast to Israelis, Faintich noted,  saying she has discovered that when Israeli participants “pick their top ten of [secular vs. Jewish values] and rank them … [that] they don’t separate the values. They’re inherent because they’re Jewish.”

Rather than think of their value systems as being either American or Jewish, American teens playing these games can be encouraged to make connections between their secular lives and their Jewish lives, and to “view their American values through a Jewish lens,” according to Faintich. 

Each deck includes instructions for 13 different games in three categories: (1) Values Clarification (e.g., "Judge and Jury"), (2) Team Building (e.g., "What's Important to Us?"), and (3) Skills Development (e.g., "Say it in Hebrew!").

Ideal for use with youth groups, clubs, camps, and Hebrew High programs for; Values clarification, Team Building, Skills development, Social Justice Programs, Mitzvah project development.

Click here to order your copy of Jewish Values Challenge Playing Cards.