Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Federation awards JTEN grants

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando (JFGO) recently awarded $7,800 in Jewish Teen Education Grants for the 2016-17 academic year.

JFGO’s Jewish Teen Education Network (JTEN), now in its third year, awards the grants to support ongoing academic Jewish teen educational programming in the Central Florida community. For the 2016-17 academic year, six Central Florida congregations received awards: Temple Shir Shalom/Temple Israel, Congregation of Reform Judaism, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation (SOJC) and Congregation Beth Am.

The topics offered in the JTEN courses are diverse as teens themselves, with classes on faith, social action, self-expression through art, music and technology, community service, leadership and Hebrew language studies. Wrote Rabbi Hillel Skolnik of SOJC, “In our years of teaching Hebrew High School here... we found a common thread among all our students, which is that they want to learn how to speak Hebrew... We’re applying for a JTEN grant this year focused on teaching our students to speak Hebrew. Without this funding, we would not be able to give our teens this incredible opportunity.”

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 SOJC using a portionof the funds to train an instructor to facilitate the Ulpan-Or Hebrew speaking program.

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 8 sessions.

JTEN grants were awarded for these 2016-17 classes:

• Temple Shir Shalom/Temple Israel: “B’Yachad: A Collaborative Program of Jewish Arts, Learning and Service.” Each month, B’Yachad participants will explore a Jewish value over two sessions. One session will focus on the arts; the second will take teens out into the community to participate in social action projects. Both sessions will be grounded in Jewish text study.

• Congregation of Reform Judaism: “Planting Trees and Drawing Circles: Building a Jewish Future and Changing the World.” This project will engage teens in Project Based Learning using text study and student cooperative learning. Teens will work together to design a learning project of their interest, which will benefit the community in a significant way.

• Congregation Ohev Shalom: “DDD: Dinner, Daber & Dvar.” The program begins with dinner, followed by Hebrew through song, and then discussion of a different Judaic topic each semester. Now in its third year, DDD’s overall theme this year is Ahava (Love) Wins, The program provides participants with a foundation grounded in Jewish text and law, why we answer the call to action, and opportunities to act on this knowledge.

• Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation: “Kahn M’dabrim Ivrit.” This program will focus on teaching our students to speak Hebrew using a program called Ulpan-OR, which combines in-class and learning at home in a way that allows each student to progress at his/her own pace.

• Congregation Beth Am: “Religion, Music, Technology, and YOU!” Popular music and media can be a useful educational tool, tapping student enthusiasm while reinforcing Jewish teachings in both a formal and informal manner. This course of study will mix Torah-based interactive programs with music, lyrics, videos, technology, and media as triggers for discussions and activities.

JTEN Educator Partners meet throughout the year to help plan and coordinate JTEN’s Communitywide Teen Education programs, the next of which is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 7, at Congregation of Reform Judaism.

“Your Voice, Your Vote, Making a Difference” will be held the evening before Election Day and will educate teens on the importance of getting involved in the political system, whether or not they are old enough to vote. The Nov. 7 program will help teens become civically engaged, learn about issues through a Jewish lens, discover the important roles Jews play in the political system and discuss all sides of issues that are important to teens.

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


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