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December 02, 1988 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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46

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140 ■ .• C od

Rabbi Mark Cohn directs a Family Living Room discussion.

Family Living Room Teaches
Jewish Values Via TV, Movies

HEIDI PRESS

News Editor

A

s parents try to get
their kids away from
the TV set into more
creative and worthwhile pur-
suits, a new Jewish communi-
ty program is pushing
families right back in front of
the screen.
The objective is education
rather than entertainment.
The TV is being used to teach
Jewish values. A joint project
of the United Hebrew Schools,
National Conference of
Synagogue Youth and Jewish
Experiences For Families, the
program, called the Family
Living Room, provides
parents and their teen-age
children a chance to explore
contemporary Jewish issues
in a non-threatening, infor-
mal, fun atmosphere.
Rabbi Mark Cohn, regional
director of the Central East
Region of NCSY, saw how ef-
fective the program was
among Orthodox youth and
felt it had relevance to other
Jewish youth as well. He ap-
proached the United Hebrew
Schools' Ofra Fisher and
Renee Wohl. They decided
that a parent-teen education
component was missing from
the UHS curriculum and con-
cluded that this would pro-
vide the vehicle to achieve
that end.
Harlene Appelman, coor-
dinator of Jewish Experiences
For Families, which creates
Jewish family education ac-

tivities for all Jewish
denominations, was called in
as a consultant. Soon, a pro-
gram was developed and the
Family Living Room was on
its way.
A recent session on Jewish
identity was conducted at
Adat Shalom Synagogue by
Rabbi Cohn and by Rabbi
Bruce Aft, Community
Jewish High School principal
and executive director of the
Midrasha-College of Jewish
Studies. The evening focused
on the question, "who are
you?"
From the group of about 20
parents and teens, Rabbi
Cohn chose one parent to go
out into the hall as he in-
structed the rest to ask her,
"who are you?"
When parent Bella
Brookenthal returned, each
group member asked her the
question, eliciting from her
such responses as mother,
daughter, wife, Jew. Rabbi
Cohn used her answers as the
basis of the evening's discus-
sion and as an introduction to
the TV episode the group was
about to see. The episode was
from the "All in the Family"
series from the 1970s, noted
for tackling controversial
issues. In this episode, the
Jewish niece of the Bunkers
had been attending an
Episcopalian Sunday school,
and brought to the attention
of her classmates. a descrip-
tion of Passover. Learning
this, the church priest visited
the Bunkers and advised

them to let the child retain
her traditions and send her to
a Jewish Sunday school. The
Bunkers followed his advice,
and at the end of the episode;
the normally intolerant
Bunker gave his niece a gift
of a necklace adorned with a
Star of David.
Following the program, the
students met with Rabbi
Cohn while Rabbi Aft took
the adults into another room
to discuss issues raised in the
show The discussion centered
on Jewish identity, and the
students were asked if in the
same situation, would they
admit to their Jewishness.
The students were evenly
divided in their responses. A
discussion ensued on Jewish
identity and pride, and Rab-
bi Cohn explained to the
teens that in order to identify
oneself as a Jew, "you can't
separate yourself from the
rest of the community. That's
where Jewish pride comes
from?'
When the parents returned,
the entire group discussed the
answers they gave in their
separate groups. The scene
was animated. "When you
separate the kids and parents
and bring them back
together, there's a tremen-
dous amount of interaction,"
Rabbi Cohn explained.
Tom Fox of West Bloomfield,
who attended with wife Judi
and daughter Lori, was glad
that he came. "It gives you
something to think about. It's
the only place we participate

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