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February 04, 1994 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-04

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

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and, Why Be Good? Ethics in
the 90s.
The school draws in stu-
dents mainly from Conserva-
tive synagogues without a
formal high school program
and some Hillel Day School
graduates. About 60 students
attend Sunday classes. Addi-
tional Wednesday afternoon
sessions attract less than 10.
Of all the offerings by the
Community Jewish High
School, Hebrew classes are the
most popular.
Ms. Dorfman attributes the
high enrollment to teachers'
abilities to make the language
relevant through conversation
and writings. In all classes, she
said, students are more recep-
tive if they can relate material
to their own lives.
"We're trying to get away
from what they (students)
might see as boring and look
at where they're at. Jewish
rock, music, poetry, literature,
Hebrew rock with biblical ref-
erences — the language and
the culture cannot be separat-
ed," Ms. Dorfman said. "The
sources have a lot to say about
what is pertinent to their (stu-
dents') lives.
"The key is to bring it back
home, make it relevant, not
just, or even, sexy. Give these
kids a social element. We're
asking them to do above and
go beyond what most teens are
doing. Create a Jewish envi-
ronment. Give them Jewish
friends."
Annie Friedman, educa-
tional director at Temple Beth
El, takes a different approach.
Monday evenings, high
school students meet for a 6
p.m. dinner and two hours of
classes. The youth group usu-
ally meets independently be-
fore instruction. Students must
be enrolled in classes to join the
youth group.
No electives are offered this
year. However, the primary
text, Rough Choices, deals with
a wide range of topics for dis-
cussion.
"It's a whole mindset. The
students have to be involved in
more than just socializing," Ms.
Friedman said. "My gut feel-
ing is we are a Jewish organi-
zation and it's important to
keep that in mind. The stu-
dents have a lot of extracur-
ricular activities to choose
from. If they want theater,
there are better places to find
it.
"We're in the business of
Jewish education. That's our
forte. Of course, there's no
question you need to make it
fun. But our time is so limited,
we need to give them Jewish
content with value."
Schools like Congregation
Shaarey Zedek and its B'nai
Israel Center, Temple Kol Ami,
Temple Emanu-El and Adat

Shalom combine theories. Most
have a core of required classes
plus electives like kosher
cooking. Some offer a meal or
snack.
Smaller congregations —
Shir Tikvah, B'nai Moshe and
Beth Shalom — have a more
informal approach. None
meets weekly.
Until this year, Shir Tikvah
students sat on the floors and
couches of each other's homes
twice each month. They now
meet at Roeper School, but the
feeling remains casual.
About 30 students are
enrolled in the fledgling
congregation's high school
program. There is no text, but
rather discussion topics,
speakers and field trips re-
volving around a three-year
curriculum. Eleventh-and
12th-grade students have the
opportunity to assist teachers
as madrichim.
B'nai Moshe Rabbi Elliot
Pachter offers three, six-week
mini courses throughout the
year geared around texts and
modern issues. Life and death
decisions were discussed in the
fall. The next topic is smoking,
drinking and drug use. Any-
where from 6-12 students at-
tend.

"The students have
to be involved in
more than
socializing."

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"This isn't in the league of
other Hebrew high schools in
town. This is a light-weight. It's
a seed to get the kids into the
building," Rabbi Pachter said.
In its first year, the high
school program is only begin-
ning to take on an identity. Its
model was created when youth
group leaders told Rabbi
Pachter that students would
not attend weekly. Because the
class consists of students in
grades 8-12, Rabbi Pachter is
in the process of creating a five-
year curriculum, so as not to
repeat himself.
"There are a number of fac-
tors involved here," Rabbi
Pachter said. "How to get them
in and why it is important.
Once you know the why, you
can deal with the method."
For the rabbi, the why is dif-
ficult questions, crises and is-
sues that can be viewed in a
Jewish perspective, as part of
living a Jewish life. Syna-
gogues and their leaders can
be looked upon for support.
"Some gimmicks work. I find
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