Because you demanded it

During the May conflict in Gaza, our teenagers suffered from online antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric. We quickly put together a few programs, but you rightfully demanded more. 

Why is there antisemitism? Why is the State of Israel so important to the Jewish people? Who are the Palestinians? Why is there conflict? Most of our kids cannot answer these simple questions and really need to be able to, especially before leaving for college. 

Back in April, I introduced you to Unpacked, which offers hundreds of short videos on a variety of Jewish and Israel topics. We piloted our communal watching of the 12-part series on the Six Day War and then debriefed with one of their educators. After collecting feedback from the teenagers, I signed a contract with Unpacked for a year of learning for our high schoolers. 

Next: To make sure that the folks at Unpacked fully understand our local needs, we’re bringing on Congregation Beth Emeth’s Director of Lifelong Learning, Shara Siegfeld, to develop our curriculum and liaise with Unpacked. Shara comes to us with a master’s in Jewish Educational Leadership from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), a specialization in Israel Education, and a master’s certificate in Israel Education from The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Next: To foster socialization and create support networks among our high school students, we will host monthly programs here, in Federation’s Massry Community room. We’ll put the videos up on the big screen, serve pizza (or similar), and debrief with an amazing Unpacked educator, live from Israel. We’ve invited our friends from the neighboring Federation communities of Berkshires, Dutchess, and Ulster to join us, either in person or with their own Zoom link (and their own pizza). We’re hoping to start later this month. Details on this early Sunday afternoon monthly program will be out soon. 

Finally: Unpacked Senior VP, Dr. Noam Weissman, in conjunction with The Lappin Group, will be presenting a series of Tuesday night programs, designed for high school students, first on antisemitism and then on Israel. We again invite all our high school students here to watch, learn, snack, and socialize. The program starts this Tuesday night, October 12. See flyer here for details. 

Okay. Parents, I need your help. Please make sure your kids are here.

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