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April 08, 1994 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-04-08

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



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Scholar Program Lends
New Perspective

LESLEY PEARL STAFF WRITER

lit Ben-Ozer knows
she needs every advan-
tage when applying for
college.
She's among the top students
in her class at Southfield-Lath-
rtip High School, a former Aki-
va Hebrew Day School pupil
and varsity tennis player. Still
she worries. So Elit recently
added another credential to her
college portfolio.
She's joining close to a dozen
other high-school students in a
pilot program of the Agency for
Jewish Education and the Uni-
versity of Michigan.
The students, all carrying a
3.5 GPA or higher and as in-
volved as Elit in a variety of dif-
ferent activities, were
recommended by teachers,
counselors and rabbis to make
up the core of the Walter and
Leah Field Jewish History
Scholars program.
Following the donation by
the Fields of $250,000 earlier
this year, the Agency for Jew-
ish Education devised a pro-
gram with the help of Todd

E

Dan Zimmerman, a Berkley
High School sophomore, said
the program originally appealed
to him as he thought of his tran-
scripts for college. He added he
is enjoying the classes a lot.
"Whenever you can gain new
knowledge, you'd be stupid not
to take that opportunity. Espe-
cially when it costs you noth-
ing," Dan said.
Every three to four weeks the
group boards a United Hebrew
Schools van bound for Ann Ar-
bor. All sessions are conducted
following a full day of school.
Professor Endelman said he
is teaching the class much like
he would instruct a college
course.
"What we're trying to do here
is fairly sophisticated. We're
teaching Jewish history like
other histories are taught.
When Jewish institutions teach
history, they often have a par-
ticular slant, focusing mainly
on heroes," Professor Endelman
said.
"Jews often have a distorted
view of the past. By reading

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Endelman, U-M history pro-
fessor and director of the
Frankel Center for Judaic Stud-
ies, to teach Jewish history at
an advanced level to high-school
students.
Rather than skimming text-
books for a kernel of new knowl-
edge on the holidays or the
Holocaust, students read auto-
biographies about Jewish life
as it was and is.
Last week, sitting around a
long, narrow table in the histo-
ry department of Haven Hall on
the U-M campus, Professor En-
delman discussd issues of piety,
ghetto life, anti-Semitism, in-
tergroup relations, superstition
and alchemy in regard to The
Autobiography of a 17th Cen-
tury Venetian Rabbi.

these autobiographies, the stu-
dents get beyond the history as
rabbis and leaders portray it, to
learn about Jewish life and
grapple with history on a one-
to-one basis. They are not read-
ing what historians have to say,
but the very evidence itself."
That evidence is disected
thrlugh two-hours of student
discussion, prompted by the in-
struct-)rs questions.
Professor Endelman said he
wants students to move beyond
notions of perpetual persecution
and reinfol red insecurity.
"I want the students to start
thinking ser'ously about the
Jewish past, out of myth and
ideology, to normalize the writ-
ing of Jewish history . These
SCHOLAR page 22

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