Father-son learning nears 1st-season end
Photos: Courtesy DATA
Fathers and sons complete a self-discovery sheet as part of the workshop.

By Eli Nissel
DATA of Plano

What happens when you combine a famous author’s principles with traditional Jewish values? The result is an exciting and fascinating program that enriches the lives of participants, bonding fathers and sons while equipping them with practical skills for success.

“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Jewish Teenagers” program is nearing the end of its first season in Plano, with fathers and their teenage sons enthusiastically singing its praises. The program, which takes place biweekly throughout the school year at DATA of Plano, provides a unique opportunity for fathers and sons to spend quality time together and to explore principles such as time management, prioritization, goal-setting, self-reflection and effective communication, all from a Jewish perspective.

Drawing upon the well-known book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey, the program’s facilitators, Rabbi Nasanya Zakon and Rabbi Eli Nissel, infuse each principle with Jewish wisdom and teachings. The fathers and sons benefit from the shared values between Torah life and Covey’s popular wisdom, gaining practical skills for success while deepening their understanding of their Jewish identity.

One participant, a father of a teenage son, shared how the program strengthened their relationship, saying, “One of the most significant aspects of this program was the quality time it allowed my son and me to spend together. Engaging in deep discussions about morality, right and wrong, provided us with a rare opportunity to connect on a more profound level. These conversations have not only helped us understand each other better but have also strengthened our bond.” Participants also reflected on how the program provided practical tools for daily challenges that arise during the teenage years.

The meetings consist of activities, group discussions, group games to reinforce the lessons and mitzvah projects.

Absorbing a lesson from Rabbi Nissel’s workshop.

Through the synergy of father-son bonds, participants engage in open discussions and activities that solidify their Jewish identity. They learn about harnessing the power of diversity within the Jewish community and building meaningful professional, personal and social relationships by seeking mutual benefit.

“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Jewish Teenagers” program offers fathers and sons the opportunity to reflect on what was working well and dedicate themselves to growing their strengths in a Jewish context. As one participant put it, “The topics explored throughout the course were both important and timely, focusing on how young men should present themselves in the world. This guidance is crucial as our sons navigate their paths into adulthood, especially in a society where maintaining one’s identity can be challenging.”

As society continues to change, it is vital to seek out creative and innovative means of maintaining our traditional values. The “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Jewish Teenagers” program has shown that it is possible to strike a balance between modernity and tradition, strengthening the vital bonds between parent and child and creating new ones along the way.

A mother-and-daughter track is being planned for the coming school year, following the successful pilot year. Furthermore, an adjusted middle school program following a similar model has already begun.

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