Ye… Yele… Yeled,” Oliver looked up at me with pride in his eyes. He knew he had read the word perfectly. He began to smile, satisfied with his own accomplishment. I too began to smile. Overwhelmed with gratification I realized it was this feeling that drags me out of bed before 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
Oliver, his sister, Daphne, and I participate in the Jewish Youth Encounter Program. “The program was designed to instill in our students a love of and pride in being Jewish,” described Debby Rapps, program director.
Founded in 1986 by Carl and Sylvia Freyer, the program is open to all children in the third through seventh grades, from public or private schools and affiliated or unaffiliated homes. The “big siblings” as the tutors are called — mostly juniors and seniors attending local yeshiva high schools — are specifically matched to best fit the needs of each child in the program. Continue reading “Pride in being Jewish”→
The world around us is changing so much faster than we ever thought possible. IBM states that every day, there are more than two quintillion (a million raised to the fifth power) data bytes created, and more than 90 percent of that data was created during the last two years! Just imagine…
And whether you like it or not, technology has become a part of all the things we do, be it in our communication or how we engage in business or politics. Youth nowadays grow up and go to school in a digital world, and teachers and school administrators have no other choice but to adapt to evolving tools and teaching methods. Digital engagement is required, and today’s children are expecting creativity and customization in their classrooms.
The classroom of the future may very well be filled with interactive tablets, 3-D animation models, colorful graphics, and interfaces that will be turning learning into something like a game, something students are already used to, so they love to learn and will get home raving about it. When they explore and study the Beit HaMikdash construction, the students can virtually explore and wander through a 3-D model of the construction and learn also how it must have been living in the days of their ancestors. Unrealistic? Well, many experts say this is likely not far off. If today, most MBA diplomas are earned through online MBA courses that use state-of-the-art technology and have become pretty affordable, you can bet other educational resources will follow suit.
And it’s not only about technology. So let’s see: what will the Jewish classroom of the future be like?
I was unsure of what I was going to find, and kind of uneasy, as I rushed through the front doors into the empty lobby of the Westside Theater. Empty that is, except for a man in an official looking suit. “Joseph P.,” I told him “Party of two.”
“Right this way,” he replied after locating my tickets. “You’ll have to wait at the steps until the scene ends,” he continued, as he led me and my friend into the theater. “The play began five minutes ago.”
As we breezed passed the ticket taker and up the steps, my eyes adjusted to the dim luminescence and I reflected on how I’d gotten to this show. It must have been, to some degree, a step in a different direction for Fresh Ink to send a writer to a play.
The public relations agent for the play treated me like I was a regular reporter and after the show I would have interview time with the leading actors, which was awesome. I’m sure this was a first or at least a second or something for a teen reporter. Continue reading “Journey To ‘Jewtopia’”→
What is Hannukah? The answer is not so simple anymore, for like many things in this day and age, Hanukkah has adopted many meanings that tend to shroud its true essence. For some, Hanukah is a time to flock to the superstores hoping to grab the last mini-ipod before other undeserving shoppers get to it first.
For others, it’s a jolly time to let our clothes be permanently permeated with the hypnotic scent of frying potatoes from the kitchen. Most every Jew in America can view Hanukkah as part of a dandy mix in the Holiday Season — a lovely little term that personifies the good-spirited feeling this time of year.
The holidays — Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and let’s not forget Chinese New Year — are all rolled into one spicy, eggnogroll-flavored latke. In the United States, the wonderful diversity at times may give way to a loss of identity. Each holiday madly mashes into a Boy Scout goulash, losing any of its original distinct flavor.
So as Jewish Americans, or American Jews, we must ask ourselves: what have we lost, what have we gained, and what will bring our friendly mysterious friend, Rod Serling to appear from behind the curtain to caution us? For we are about to enter, the Delicate Equilibrium Zone. Continue reading “Happy Hanukkah? The Delicate Equilibrium”→
Everyone has an individual style, way of dressing, and sense of fashion. From preppy to punk, from girly to glam, and from sporty to sweet, there are so many different styles to choose from. Great style can’t always be expressed because of school dress codes and tzniut.
The halachot of tzniut prohibit certain types of clothing and place restrictions on others. They’re the laws of dressing modestly. In today’s culture though, the word modest has a very different connotation than it did in the time of the Torah.
Today’s interpretation of tzniut laws requires skirts that cover the knees and shirts that cover the collarbone and elbow. It prohibits exposing the midriff and wearing excessively tight or sheer clothes.
These laws can be hard to abide by in today’s society because fashion magazines, television shows, and newspaper ads all promote the type of dress that is forbidden. Jewish teens today want to look acculturated, not differentiated, and because of some of the laws it’s not that easy.
November — a crisp, chilly month when the cold begins to settle in for the winter. The trees so majestically hued in shades of yellow, orange, and red begin to lose their splendor along with their leaves.
But November isn’t just a time of natural elegance and display. It’s also an American period of thanksgiving.
Every year in the United States the last Thursday in November is designated as a day of appreciation and thanks. This day is nationally recognized as Thanksgiving Day. A day of family gatherings, turkey and gravy, pumpkin pie, parades, and NFL football — Thanksgiving is hard not to enjoy.
But how did it all get started? We all know about the pilgrims and Indians, but how did a turkey barbeque among our ancestors and their neighbors turn into a full-fledged, nationally observed holiday?
During the American Revolution, the first Continental Congress proposed Thanksgiving as a national holiday. They borrowed the idea from a group of pilgrims and Indians who celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 to give thanks for their first successful harvest. Although the holiday never became official, many who favored the American Revolution adopted Thanksgiving and it soon spread throughout the nation.
Hi, happy to meet you! Ever since I have been teaching English at George Leven High School for 16 years, I have been trying to organize exchanges for pupils,” wrote Daniella Malka, an English teacher from Paris, in one of her first e-mails to our school’s faculty.
Little did she realize that our teachers, Doris Davis and Monique Caiden, were thinking about that exact plan. Caiden proposed the idea to her friend Hava Maguy, a teacher at George Leven High School.
These two French teachers and Andy Sandler, computer instructor and coordinator, have set up e-mail connections between students at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, N.Y., and George Leven High School in Paris, — both Modern Orthodox yeshivas.
“I am so excited about the new program, ‘Le Club de Français’, because I enjoy writing to my pen-pal,” said senior Sharleen Pouladian. “We’re just beginning to exchange ideas and plans. This way we can both develop an understanding as to where we come from and how that affects us, both being teenagers.”
At Yeshivah of Flatbush High School something, or someone for that matter, stands out. Among the teenage boys and girls dressed in every bright color imaginable hiking up the five flights of exasperating stairs is a girl dressed solely in morbid black. Black shirt, black skirt, black shoes, black armwarmers, black bracelets, black everything.
Fourteen-year-old Malka Wallick dresses in the Gothic style, a style usually not associated with Judaism. Although the term “Goth” was first used to describe a type of architecture in the early 12th century, it was later used to describe the style of literature used by writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson, a style pertaining to bereavement. To find out more, I asked her some questions.
Imagine the scene. You are driving down Main Street in a coastal town in New Jersey, or any Jewish suburban community for that matter, on your way to the supermarket. It’s a nice summer day and you can smell the salty sea air drifting in from the Atlantic.
You stop at a red light, when all of a sudden a swarm of 20 bicycles swoops down on you from behind, riding at Lance Armstrong breakneck pace, heading straight for the kosher pizza store. Not two minutes later another horde of teenagers follows. This is not just a casual group of friends. This is a pack.
The pack concept is neither indigenous to one town nor limited to teenagers. Groups of fourth and fifth grade girls roam the streets of my hometown Teaneck on Shabbat afternoons. Similar to the teenage pack, they descend on one girl’s house then move on when boredom sets in or there is nothing left to eat or with which to play. Continue reading “Leaders And Their Packs”→
Decision-making is constantly a part of my life, whether picking out an outfit to wear one morning or standing on the lunch line at school. It is often hard to decide between the piece of pizza or the vegetable soup, the cranberry sweater or the olive green zip-up.
Recently, I have met a 10-year-old girl who faces a much larger decision than any I must make in my near future. Her name is Ceri Goldberg. Her father is Jewish and her mother is Christian. When she is 18 years old her parents will allow her to make her decision: Judaism or Christianity.
Honestly, I would think she would be daunted by this task, but it does not appear to scare her at all. “It is not such a major decision,” she said. “One little decision. Because when it comes time to decide, I’ll probably already know.” She seems to view this as a casual matter, yet she does seem to understand its scope.