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Targum Shlishi Funds Creative Jewish Educational Curricula That Applies Jewish Values to Contemporary Media

(Miami, FL) November 15, 2010—What messages do we receive from the media, and what might they have to do with traditional Jewish values? The Union for Traditional Judaism has explored this theme in its long-term educational initiative “Taking the MTV Challenge,” a cutting-edge media curriculum that teaches teens and adults to interpret difficult material from a variety of media sources such as TV shows and the Internet and to consider these messages from the viewpoint of traditional Jewish values. Targum Shlishi’s support of the program has helped in the development of new lessons.

“Taking the MTV Challenge” was created in 1997 by the Union for Traditional Judaism, an education and outreach organization that promotes traditional values across the Jewish denominational spectrum. Using examples from television and the Internet, the program teaches participants to deconstruct visual images and filter the messages and values they encounter through the prism of Jewish values found in classical texts such as the Bible, Talmud, and other rabbinic sources.

Much of the impetus for the initiative is an outgrowth of the ubiquity of negative media images – TV, the Internet, and other media bombard us with images of violence, promiscuity, misogyny, drug abuse, cynicism, and inter-group hatred. Music videos, TV shows and commercials, and Internet sites often influence our views of relationships and values.

“It is imperative that Jews around the world have the media literacy tools to understand and deconstruct the media and messages they are bombarded with on a daily basis,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “ ‘Taking the MTV Challenge’ is educational in the best sense, because it empowers people to better understand and navigate our world. This is a valuable learning tool for Jews of all ages, and we are excited to help UTJ expand their curriculum.”

“Taking the MTV Challenge” was developed by a team that included a psychiatrist, rabbis, and Jewish educators. It is currently in use in over 350 locations in North America, Europe, and Israel. It is completely digital, and is continually working on developing additional lesson plans to expand the program and to use examples from current media sources.

“Demand for the program and updating it with the most current material has far outstripped our modest means. Targum Shlishi has demonstrated its ability to independently evaluate programs without regard to affiliation, and in finding our MTV Challenge worthy of funding, is helping make a successful program better and more accessible to a broad segment of the Jewish Community,” notes Rabbi Ronald Price, UTJ executive vice president.

About the Union for Traditional Judaism

The Union for Traditional Judaism is a trans-denominational education and outreach organization that promotes traditional Jewish values among all Jews – regardless of gender, background, or movement affiliation – as the way to strengthen the Jewish people, ensure the Jewish future, and promote Jewish unity. For more information about Taking the MTV Challenge, go to the program’s website at www.mtvchallenge.org/.

About Targum Shlishi

Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.

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