The Marlboro Jewish Center and Temple Rodeph Torah announced their plan to provide a joint high school program for their students in grades 8 – 12, beginning in the fall of 2016.
“We are very pleased to offer our teenagers a new vision of Jewish learning as they begin their journey toward college life,” said Rabbi Michael Pont of the Marlboro Jewish Center, a Conservative congregation. “The more exposure they have to liberal Jewish ideas and modern Jewish life, the better prepared they will be to face the new challenges of Jewish life on campus.”
This past fall, Rabbi Don Weber of Temple Rodeph Torah gave a Yom Kippur sermon detailing the “new reality” on many college campuses, where students are called on to defend their Jewish identity – or to abandon it completely. Weber challenged the community to do everything possible to continue and increase the involvement of high school students in active Jewish life, and this new union will provide a wide variety of experiences for participants.
The 8th and 9th grades will offer a series of electives which students can choose to study. Tenth grade, the year of Confirmation, will be taught by the rabbis from both congregations and will include a trip to the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC. Post-Confirmation sessions will focus on “Packing for College,” helping students set goals for themselves as they go through the application process. Classes will alternate between the two congregations, and special programs will add to the curriculum for each age group.
“Our goal is to create a program that high school students want to be part of; something challenging, interesting and fun for everyone involved,” said Marlboro Jewish Center President Jeff Katz. “When this is ‘the place to be,’ we’ll know we have succeeded.”
Susan Klass, the incoming Chair of Rodeph Torah’s Education Committee, said, “High school students are able to compare ideas, to challenge authority as they create their own belief systems. We are excited that we will be able to provide them with the opportunity to hear many voices – rabbis, educators and fellow students – in these critical years of development. The time has come to break down walls and give students the widest range of experiences possible.”
Grades 8-10 will meet on Monday evenings each week; 11th and 12th grades will meet once a month, on Sunday evenings. Participation is open to members of both Jewish communities.