Why Jewish Kids Need Values-Based Sex Ed

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A18 sexed3Written by Mara Yacobi.  Mara is a first-time Jewrotica writer, was profiled in The Jewish Week’s 2011 “36 Under 36” feature and is the founder of Jlove and Values. Photo credit above to Housing Works.
Rated PG
Last spring I walked into a sixth grade classroom where the girls welcomed me with squeals of delight, excited to show me the dance routine they had created to the rap song “Take It Off.” The lyrics include:

             Now we’re looking like pimps in my gold Trans-Am

Got a water bottle full of whiskey in my handbag…

There’s a place downtown where the freaks all come around

It’s a hole in the wall, it’s a dirty free for all

And they turn me on when they take it off…

The girls told me they had performed their dance routine as they peeled off layers of clothing until they were down to their bathing suits. Their original performance was for the talent show at a Jewish co-ed sleepaway camp.

As a former Planned Parenthood educator and the founder of JLove and Values, a group dedicated to educating Jewish youth and professionals on adolescent sexuality, I was able to turn this event into an opportunity to discuss healthy life choices and responsible decision-making based on Jewish values and moral reasoning.

I asked the girls to create a list of everything they do from the moment they get up to the moment they go sleep, then categorize the list into private and public behaviors. The girls quickly started to engage in conversations about how “context” was important depending on the behavior. However, they collectively agreed taking off one’s clothes was a private event. “Well,” I said, “I wonder where this performance would fall on our continuum?”

An engaging and meaningful conversation followed about what they felt it meant to be made in God’s image and how to follow traditions of modesty when they live in a culture that promotes sexiness.

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Mara Yacobi is a Certified Sexuality Educator, Licensed Social Worker and Founder of JLove and Values. Mara lives in New Jersey with her family and dreams of becoming a talk show host and finding more hours in the day.
  • Mara, thank you for writing this. Sexual education is important, and you are filling a much-needed void.

    At one of my events this week, a woman approached and told me that the URJ created a sex education curriculum for various ages. Have you heard anything about this? Perhaps you could share a list with our readers of relevant Jewish and general sexual education resources?

    I look forward to more of your writing!

  • Mara Yacobi

    I appreciate your support for sexuality education!

    I am quite familiar with the URJ resource on sexuality education. It’s called Sacred Choices: Adolescent Relationships and Sexual Ethics.

    It should be noted that this curriculum is based on sexual ethics so it does not cover anatomy and physiology or specific information related to reproductive health.

    I would also recommend educators, parents and lay leaders review:

    Life Values and Intimacy Education: Comprehensive Health Education for grades 3-8

    Love Your Neighbor, Love Yourself: Building Healthy Relationships for middle and high school

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