JTEN grants for education


October 27, 2017

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando recently awarded $6,500 in Jewish Teen Education Grants for the 2017-18 academic year.

JFGO’s Jewish Teen Education Network, now in its fourth year, awards the grants to support ongoing academic Jewish teen educational programming in the Central Florida community. For the 2017-18 academic year, four Central Florida congregations received awards: Congregation Ohev Shalom, Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation (SOJC), Congregation Beth Am and Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Orlando.

The topics offered in the JTEN courses are diverse as teens themselves, with classes on faith, social action, self-expression, community service, leadership and Hebrew language studies. Rabbi Hillel Skolnik of SOJC wrote about their Hebrew studies grant: “The very definition of Jewish teen education is to give our teens the knowledge to become better educated Jewish adults and to increase their Jewish identity. It is hard to image a project that better fits those goals than to give our teens a chance to increase their Hebrew knowledge. Knowing more Hebrew will make them want to go to Israel, make them want to become more involved on their college campuses, make them want to attend more synagogue related events, and make them want to keep learning.”

The JTEN grants cover all or a significant portion of the costs of the synagogue’s educational 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 eight sessions.

JTEN grants awarded for these 2017-18 classes:

• Congregation Ohev Shalom: “DDD: Dinner, Daber & Dvar” (now in its fourth year) Teens meet twice a month. The program begins with dinner, followed by study and discussion of different topics relevant to teens through a Jewish lens. Each session is designed to stand alone, so if a teen is unable to attend every session, he or she will still benefit. For more information, contact Amy Geboff, director of Youth and Family, at educator@ohevshalom.org.

• Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation: “Adayin M’dabrim Ivrit.” After the success of last year’s JTEN program at SOJC entitled, “Kahn M’dabrim Ivrit,” SOJC is continuing their Hebrew studies project with a slight change in title. The change takes students from “Here we speak Hebrew” to “We still speak Hebrew.” The main goals and aims of the program remain the same as last year—increasing the Hebrew knowledge of high school students, helping them to identify more with Judaism and with the state of Israel, and increasing their Hebrew vocabulary. For more information, contact Rabbi Hillel Skolnik at rabbi@sojc.org.

• Congregation Beth Am: “JGEN - Future Jewish Leaders,” Once a month, teens will explore the Saturday morning shacharit service and discuss the components, the order, the whys and the meanings. The teens will get hands-on experience leading the service with the congregants, increasing confidence to become a future Jewish leader and participant. For more information, contact Cantor Nina Fine at nina@ninafine.com.

• Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Orlando: “Jewish Learning Institute for Teens: Debate, Discuss, Do Good!” Teen JLI provides advanced Jewish involvement for high school students by challenging teenagers to incorporate Jewish thought into their everyday life. Each series incorporates ethics, philosophy, faith, history, community service, current events, and textual studies. Teens meet weekly during two six-week semesters. For more information, contact Rabbi Ed Leibowitz at rabbieddy@gmail.com.

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, Oct. 30, 2017, at Congregation of Reform Judaism at 5:30 pm.

October is anti-bullying month, and this year, the JTEN educators are partnering with Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Council, parent advocacy co-chairs, Dori Gerber and Shari Wladis, to bring 8th - 12th graders, “Empower the Jew in You.” With anti-Semitism and bullying on the rise in local schools, Orlando Jewish teens will learn insight and resources to Empower the Jew in You! High school students will peer-lead breakout sessions moderated by JTEN Educators, including, Turning your back on hate, Hate Speech vs. Free Speech, Media Propaganda and more. A special session will also include a role-playing exercise for teens to learn to difference between hate and ignorance, and when it is appropriate to stand up to educate others or report an act of hate. The program is free of charge, and a kosher dinner will be provided. Teens can register online at http://www.jfgo.org.

For more information on JTEN Teen Education Grants or the next JTEN Community-wide Teen Education Evening, contact Jennifer Cohen, JFGO’s director of Outreach and Engagement, at 407-621-4039 or jcohen@jfgo.org.


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