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March 03, 1989 - Image 49

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-03

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

Distinctive
gi • • •

Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg discusses the day's lesson.

blast to instill the meaning of
being Jewish into the kids
before they hit the college
campuses.
The kids relate well to the
format, Sleutelberg said, and
from Wenig's vantage point,
they get along well with him.
"They relate very well to Ar-
nie, which is great too,
because when he's teaching
them, they listen," she said.
Twelve students, age 13-15,
are in the program, and all
high school-age Jewish
students are welcome,
whether or not the family
holds membership in the con-
gregation. The fee is $100 per
year per child for members
and $120 for non-members. A
student can come for one, two
or three years and start at
any point in the schedule.
This year's curriculum has
a four-part focus: American
Jewish history, comparative
Judaism, life cycles-Jewish
communal life and anti-
Semitism. Each unit was
designed to build on the
previous. "We felt that they
were kind of interrelated
topics," Wenig explained.
In the American Jewish
history unit, the class heard
speakers who traced their
ancestry to areas throughout
the world and who told how
circumstances in their native
countries led to their families'
immigration to America. At
the same time, persons whose
roots lie in all parts of the U.S.
spoke about what it was like
growing up in New York City
or a small Southern town, for
example.
The comparative Judaism
unit took the class to sites
such as the Orthodox Machon
Mbrah in Oak Park and to
the Reconstructionist Con-
gregation T'Chiyah in
downtown Detroit. Trips to a
Jewish funeral chapel, the
mikvah, Sinai Hospital, a
kosher bakery and butcher
and to a sofer (scribe) also
were included in the
curriculum.
"The program was designed
to be experiential," Wenig

said, "so that we could get
kids that were kind of
marginal about wanting their
Jewish education. It would
appeal to them that it
wouldn't meet every single
Sunday morning?'
Numbers weren't important
when it came to starting the
high school program. Having
children who needed a Jewish
education was.
"The need and the numbers
are two separate issues,"
Wenig said. "We knew we had
the numbers, but even if we
didn't get the numbers sign-
ing up at some point we decid-
ed what was the minimum
number that we would knock
our brains out for and we
decided there was no such
thing. We had enough kids
that had recently gone
through bar/bat mitzvah and
we should provide something
for them.
"We really feel it's impor-
tant for kids to continue their
Jewish education past bar
mitzvah and that's the thing
I really want to stress. So
regardless of the number of
kids available we had to have
a program for the ones that
were available."
So attractive is the program
that parents want to come too.
But, the coordinators denied
the request. They felt that
parent participation during
class time would distract the
teens. "If we do that, the kids
won't integrate as a group
and they won't learn and the
group will have a different
flavor," Wenig said. The
parents are encouraged,
however, to offer input and
chaperone on field trips.
Students who complete the
proposed three-year high
school program will be con-
firmed in ceremonies in 1990
or 1991, Wenig said.
Student Witkow is happy to
have the opportunity to meet
new people and go on field
trips. "Everyone after their
bar mitzvah should go to this
because the people, the trips
and the lectures are really in-
teresting."



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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

49

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