making a difference
by Gabriella Ring
continuesfivm page B1
students learn to be 'ambassadors
of righteousness' in Metro Detroit
Beverly Prentis Wagner. A gift from the Bruce Frankel family also will help
fund the project. Sachse Construction and Development Corp. of Birming-
ham will do the construction.
Berkley High School seniors Joel Kaatz, Scot McKee and Caius Schneider took their learning
outside the classroom as part of a workshop on righteousness and altruism at the Holocaust
The adults reached out to teens for input in various ways. Focus groups, com-
posed of more than 50 Jewish teens, including middle-schoolers, were orga-
nized to gather ideas for making the center a fun, worthwhile place to spend
free time. Ideas also came from existing teen centers in southeast Michigan.
Erica Sachse, a sophomore at Berkley High School, and Ben Goutkovitch,
a junior from the Frankel Jewish Academy, are heading a steering committee
of 15 teens from area schools. Subcommittees will focus on membership, de-
sign, programming and information gathering.
"The focus groups gave Ben and me a chance to hear the input and sug-
gestions of many Jewish teens around the area," said Erica, daughter of Todd
Sachse. "We covered topics ranging from the ideal 'empty room' to more seri-
ous issues like membership."
Memorial Center in Farmington Hills in mid-February.
The Holocaust "stepped beyond a Jewish issue to an issue in humanity," said their teacher
Cindy Allen, who teaches a Holocaust course.
Many non-Jewish men and women — known as "Righteous Gentiles" — risked their own lives
to save Jews during the Holocaust. What resonates now is that people can learn from those
courageous actions and do the same for victims of current genocides.
The workshop featured the Berkley students as panelists in a discussion about spreading the
ideals of righteousness and altruism throughout Metro Detroit and beyond. This student-led program
is part of an effort between the Berkley School District and the HMC launched two years ago.
A special curriculum used by Allen during the fall semester features a 220-page textbook with
relevant definitions, information about the times, righteous behavior and materials that the course
committee assembled from various sources.
Essays, fiction and non-fiction "acquaint the
students with various aspects of the Holocaust
and of the people who were rescuers during the
time, too," said Guy Stern, director of the HMC's
Institute of the Righteous.
"What we hope to do is to start a dynamic that
will talk to different high schools. While Berkley
is our pioneer program, we also intent to involve
other high schools and make this a vast network
Berkley High School teacher Cindy Allen
of people devoted to responsible actions.
with seniors Scot McKee, Joel Kaatz and
"I personally believe that the example of altru-
Caius Schneider, who participated in the
istic acts can inspire others to act as nobly," Stern
said. Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig, HMC executive di-
rector, conceived this idea of using acts of heroism
from the Holocaust to inspire positive attitudes among today's students.
The workshop allowed students to practice for their presentations to other schools that will
begin the first few weeks of April. Holocaust survivors also attended the workshop, and they will
The committee presented ideas to Forest Levy, JCC youth director, and to
the design professionals at Neumann/Smith Architecture in Southfield for
approval and to be worked into the proposed plans.
"With all the great ideas, there is no doubt in my mind that teens will find
this place to be the next Jewish chotspot,"' Ben said.
Expect to see state-of-the-art interactive arcade games, a full-service com-
puter lab and tutoring center, a palladium-style surround-sound movie the-
ater, a snack and coffee shop, open spaces, meeting rooms and plenty of large-
screen TVs. A Jewish feel will be incorporated into the design, perhaps with
Hebrew letters in signage and some rooms done Israeli-style.
Plans call for moving the staffs of B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO)
and the JCC's youth programming department into offices in the teen center
to provide easy access and supervision.
Some kind of inexpensive youth membership will be required
so who goes in and out can be regulated, Lit said. Scholarships
will be available.
eventually accompany the students on their actual presentations for added support.
"We want the kids to feel at home," he said.
At first, it was kind of difficult speaking, but when everyone came together and made us feel at
Blake Orman, 15, Is a sophomore at the Frankel Jewish Academy.
the same level, it was easy to voice our opinions," said student Joel Kaatz. "I've never been sur-
rounded by so many prestigious people ever. How much they went through was unimaginable."
Genocide now is going on in Darfur, Sudan, where thousands already have been
Passover Recipe Cookoff!
"We need to get people out, give speeches. If we don't raise awareness, we will
Enter your best teen-friendly recipe.
get more Darfurs and genocides," Joel said.
For more info, visit JNi2ticom
Gabriella Ring, 14, Is a freshman at Berkley High School.
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