Greetings from Boston! We have had an exciting Autumn full of wonderful events, powerful social justice and lots of new guests and members of our community!
Here in the Boston Moishe House our community is organized into a series of programmatic and structural teams - We have a Shabbat and holidays team, a membership team and a housing justice team, just to name a few. This Fall our teams had great events, made a difference in the local community and gained many new members. And even though I was always taught that it is wrong to pick favorites, today I'd like to share the work and goals of one of our most exciting and dynamic teams - the Sex Ed team.
Our Sex Ed team was created at the end of last Spring out of a series of Sex Ed classes taught by community member and sexuality educator, Mimi Arbeit. (For more information on the history of sexual education and a chance to bask in her unbelievable awesomeness, check out her blog). Mimi's vision was to carve out a space at the Boston Moishe House where young adults can come together to learn about sex, sexuality and gender and create meaningful dialogue. Mimi's passion and vision was an amazing success with over 40 participants throughout the 14 session course. Harnessing the energy of the class, Mimi began building a team of people and with the help of housemate Margie Klein applied for and won a grant to create sex ed curriculum for young adults in the Boston Jewish community. (Again - check out Mimi's blog... she tells it better than I do! :) )
Currently the Sex Ed team has about 18 active members and our goal is to create five different curricular modules that we can bring to different Jewish young adult groups in the Spring. In preparation for our workshops we successfully trained 18 new sex ed facilitators and we have organized ourselves into five curricular groups - Sexual Orientation, Gender Diversity, Sexual Ethics and Judaism, Communication and Relationships and Boundaries and Consent. Each group has two to three members and they are working to create several different activities and lesson plans per curricular area. Once our lesson planning is complete, we will take our curriculum on the road, tailoring our sessions to fit the needs of each community we are visiting.
This is exciting for so many reasons! First - we are receiving very positive responses from local communities. It is clear that sexuality education should not end after high school -- Young adults want to talk about sex and sexuality in their communities but often do not have safe spaces to do so. This is also giving Moishe House members the chance to learn about sex, sexuality (etc) and have meaningful dialogue in our community. Also, it is amazing to have these conversations in a Jewish context and give others the chance to engage with Jewish text in a meaningful way - We believe that Judaism touches all aspects of our lives, including sexuality, and we should not separate our lives into "secular" and "religious." We are bringing our whole selves to our community - it is important to understand these issues in a Jewish lens, and where this is difficult, it is important to challenge ourselves to struggle with our tradition.
Lastly, what we are accomplishing is a radical and exciting approach to lesson planning and curriculum building. As an educator, I usually plan and teach my lessons on my own. I do what works for me, what I think is best but this is perhaps limiting. Instead of having one or even a handful of people deciding what works best, we have approximately 18 people writing, editing, and making decisions. This kind of democracy is rare in curriculum development and I think will lead to unbelievably creativity and possibility.
As of now we are still building all five areas of our curriculum and we are looking forward to workshopping them in our Moishe house community and bringing them to our partner communities this Spring! I'll keep you posted :)