Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Federation offers new round of teen education grants


The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando (JFGO) is pleased to announce the third year of the Jewish Teen Education Grant Program, and is now accepting grant requests for 2016-17 academic year.

The grants are intended for ongoing academic Jewish teen educational programming.

The second year of JTEN grants yielded eight successful programs from Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation, Congregation Beth Am, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Chabad of North Orlando, Temple Shir Shalom, Congregation of Reform Judaism, Temple Israel and Chabad of South Orlando.

“We are so grateful to the Federation’s Jewish Teen Education Network (JTEN),” said Sheryl R. Sacharoff, Ed.D, CRJ’s director of education. “Through Federation’s generous JTEN grants, Congregation of Reform Judaism has been able to offer compelling programs for 8th- to 12th- graders at our synagogue.”

This past year, teens engaged in discussion in the CRJ class #SeeMediaJewishly, which offered an opportunity to think critically about world issues. Similarly, the year before, teens examined the complexities of anti-Semitism, racism and stereotyping within the context of history and current events in Facing History and Ourselves.

“JTEN has significantly added to our ability to work together as educators in the community and to offer compelling programs to our teens,” Sacharoff said.

In its second year, JTEN also sponsored two community-wide Teen Education Days for 70 teens in grades 8 to 12. Both were collaborative events bringing together eight synagogues and local BBYO chapters. The fall teen day brought students together for a day of learning with Friends of the Israel Defense Forces in Miami, eight IDF soldiers, and facilitators from four synagogues. The spring teen day brought students to Central Florida Hillel to directly experience Jewish life on a college campus.

“This year’s teen day in the fall was incredibly valuable for the students and our community,” said Elana Moss, education and program director for Congregation Beth Am. “The participants from our synagogue came back raving about how much they learned and how much fun they had. They want to continue learning about Israel and hope to travel to Israel in the future.”

JTEN educators are already meeting regularly to plan the next Community-wide Teen Education Day, scheduled for Oct. 30.

The Federation’s JTEN program also administers Colman Israel Travel Scholarships for students. 

“In April, the Federation awarded $5,600 through the Colman scholarships to six local high school students traveling to Israel this summer,” said Jennifer Cohen, JFGO’s director of outreach and engagement.

From January through March, teens had the opportunity to complete an Israel travel scholarship application, including a personal essay with their goals for the trip and what they hope to bring back to the community, and a letter of recommendation from a Jewish professional.

Wrote applicant Haley Codron, a rising 11th-grader at Lake Highland Prep who will be visiting Israel this summer for five weeks with the L’Dor V’Dor NFTY program, “Nobody in my family has ever been to Israel, and I feel this trip would be an opportunity to create a connection that the generations in my past never got to make for themselves. It would be something that I contribute to our heritage, my future and my Jewish community. My mom has always talked about her aspirations to travel to Israel, and I know that part of her could be there with me on this fantastic journey. This would be my own personal L’Dor V’Dor, generation through generation.”

In addition to the NFTY L’Dor V’Dor program, teens will be participating in other Israel adventure programs through NFTY and USY, National Ramah Commission and Alexander Muss High School in Israel.

“We look forward to meeting with all the teens when they return at the end of the summer and sharing their experiences with the Jewish community,” Cohen said.

The Jewish teen Education Grant program is accepting applications through July 5. The guidelines and grant application are available online at http://www.jfgo.org/jtengrants.

Please email jten@jfgo.org if you have questions about JTEN, the grant program or the Colman Israel Travel Scholarship.


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