Federation's JTEN awards $10K+ in education grants


In its second year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando’s Jewish Teen Education Network (JTEN) has awarded more than $10,000 in grants to eight synagogues for formal Jewish teen educational programming.

For the 2015-2016 year, eight Central Florida congregations applied for and received awards, including Chabad of North Orlando, Chabad of South Orlando, Congregation Beth Am, Congregation of Reform Judaism, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Temple Israel, Temple Shir Shalom of Oviedo and Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation (SOJC).

“The JTEN programming is definitely making an impact on our community,” said Dr. Maxine Silverman Rosenthal, JTEN Committee Chair. “There are so many program options... Each and every teen in our community should find a program that speaks to his or her personal interests.”

The topics offered in the JTEN courses are diverse as teens themselves, with classes on philosophy, faith, history, self-expression through art, social justice, social action, worldly issues and more. “I’m really glad we have the opportunity to learn more about being Jewish and learn new and interesting things, said Reba, a student from Chabad of North Orlando.

The JTEN grants cover all or a significant portion of the costs of the synagogue’s educational program. Some of the grant money may be designated for a specific purpose, such as course materials. The grant awarded to SOJC, for example, will provide students with their own copies of textbooks.

“Most, if not all, of our students have one Jewish book on their shelves—the siddur that that was required to purchase in advance of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah,” wrote SOJC’s Rabbi Hillel Skolnik. “We want that to change and we want the books that they have to be ones that speak to them and ones that they can use again in the future. We firmly believe that ownership of ideas and text comes from actually owning the text...”

Each book will come with a nameplate noting that the books are a gift provided through the JTEN program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando.

The JTEN programming is unique in that each class is open to all teens in the community, regardless of synagogue affiliation, and offered at the same cost for members and non-members. All the classes will meet throughout the school year with at least two sessions per month.

As the JTEN program matures, all JTEN Educators are invited to exchange ideas and challenges in a JTEN Educators Forum, which meets throughout the year, and all teens participating in the JTEN program and throughout the community have the opportunity to learn together at JFGO’s upcoming 2nd Annual Communitywide Teen Education Day on Nov. 1.

For more information on JTEN programming and the 2nd Annual Communitywide Teen Education Day, contact Jennifer Cohen, JFGO’s Director of Outreach and Engagement, at 407-621-4039 or jcohen@jfgo.org.

Summary of JTEN Classes

Chabad of North Orlando—JLI Teens. An advanced Jewish involvement for high school students by challenging teens to incorporate Jewish thought into everyday life.

Chabad of South Orlando—Teen Hebrew and Jewish Discovery. The basics of Jewish history, the meaning behind major Jewish holidays, stories of heroism from the Holocaust and more are taught.

Congregation Beth Am—Judaism 365. The class provides Jewish teens with a varied learning experience ot meet spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional and artistic needs.

Congregation of Reform Judaism—#SeeMediaJewishly. Using Jewish publications, students discuss and explore worldly issues and viewpoints with authors and the people written about in articles.

Congregation Ohev Shalom—Dinner, Daber & Dvar. The program begins with dinner, followed by Hebrew through song, and then discussion of a different Judaic topic each semester.

Temple Israel—Judaism and Self Expression through Art. Over four months, teens are exposed to examples of Jewish expression, then asked to create their own.

Temple Shir Shalom of Oviedo—Shir Shalom Mitzvah Mavens. Helps teens deepen their understanding of the Jewish commitment to social justice and social action.

Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation—Texting with Teens. Introduces students to different Jewish texts, opening the door for discussion and giving a takeaway of understanding Judaism, but also a physical takeaway in the form of books.


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