Open: Do As I Do
Madrichim lead the next generation by example.
LESLEY PEARL STAFF WRITER
t about 9:15 a.m. each
Sunday, Aaron Starr
drags a sleepy body into
Roeper School in Bloom-
field Hills, a red and gold letter-
jacket over his shoulders.
Sometimes he maneuvers into
the parking lot in his mother's
mini-van. Other times, he is
dropped off. More often than not,
a cup of coffee or a Coke is in his
It's been a long week.
Besides working hard to main-
tain a 3.76 GPA at Troy Athens
High School, Aaron plays varsi-
ty tennis, participates in the Eth-
nic Round Table — discussing
modern issues with his peers —
and acts as president of Troy
Area Temple Youth. He used to
referee student basketball. And
on Sundays he joins four other
Congregation Shit. Tikvah teens
as a madrich.
While many youths list shop-
ping, sleeping and occasionally
studying as weekend activities,
madrichim — literally "ones who
show the way" — at Shir Tikvah
and other congregations taste the
realities of Jewish education.
Shir Tikvah's program is in its
At Temple Emanu-El, educa-
tor Ira Wise sometimes has trou-
ble finding spots for the 20-plus
madrichim he has gathered from
humble beginnings in 1991.
At both schools, madrichim
must be enrolled in the congre-
gation's high-school curriculum.
Most work Sundays as classroom
aides. Some tutor mid-week He-
brew. A few do both.
They are paid — minimum
wage for the first year at Temple
Emanu-El with increases each
year, approximately the same at
Shir Tikvah. Money is not the
Aaron tutors Hebrew, spend-
ing about 15 minutes with each
"When I come back each week,
they're (the students) a little bet-
ter, a little faster, a little more
confident. The smiles on their
faces are a little bigger," Aaron
said. "I feel like, because of me,
the students are understanding
a little bit better."
Aaron became involved in He-
brew tutoring as an "act of hu-
manity" — a Shir Tikvah bar and
bat mitzvah requirement — and
has continued working since that
T.ike Aaron, Seth Kessler didn't
want to lose his Hebrew knowl-
Seth attended Hillel Day
Cara Wenig and Mike Vitale, 7, get water to make falafel.
School through the
eighth grade and is
now a junior at
In addition to
having served as
religious and cul-
tural vice presi-
dent for Temple
ple Youth, Seth is
also a member of
tal and interna-
tional clubs, the Aaron Starr helps Robert Silvian prepare his bar mitzvah prayers.
math league and
Students Against Driving Drunk. about the Reform movement. I younger students positively and
He maintains a 3.97 GPA and learned so much about Conser- receiving training to perhaps
works as a madrich on Sunday vative Judaism at Hillel. Now Pm serve as faculty.
"I was a madrich when I was
mornings and Tuesday after- getting both aspects."
Seth is looking to a future uti- young. It's one of the reasons for
noons at his Oak Park congrega-
lizing his math and computer-sci- where I am now. So if anyone is
Besides assisting younger stu- ence skills. Aaron Starr and convinced this works .. .
"But Pm also tired of spending
dents with difficult passages or Marla Swartz, a music madrich
pronunciation, Seth and the oth- at Shir Tikvah, are thinking May and June looking for facul-
er Hebrew madrichim motivate about the rabbinate. Cara Wenig, ty for the next year. The ideal fac-
children who are excelling with also a Shir Tikvah madrich, ulty comes from the congregation.
more difficult assignments, but plans to major in education in These kids are ideal. They don't
have to be cajoled. They know
not with material they will re- college.
how to teach children."
ceive in later grades.
Janet Moses, Shir Tikvah ed-
"It's a real challenge working into the goals of temple educators
added, "They are truly
with the kids," Seth said. "It's
Mr. Wise considers the role models. I don't know if our
good reinforcement for me, too.
But really, being here, I'm getting madrich program his greatest program, only in its first year,
the opportunity to learn more success at the congregation for would have made it without
several reasons — them. They know all the Hebrew
the madrichim are games and songs which we in-
continuing with corporate into family education.
their Jewish educa- And the kids get to see another
tion, influencing generation leading them." ❑
Marla Swartz assists with art and music at Shir Tikvah.