Can reality TV help Chicago-area teens learn
It can, and it did.
December, nearly 600 students studying Hebrew in public high schools throughout
the city and suburbs practiced their skills with contestants from Israel’s
version of the hit TV show The Voice. The free concert and cultural
exchange luncheon, coordinated by Shorashim and the iCenter, gave them a chance
to hear songs sung live in Hebrew and to converse with the Israeli
"I like to experience the language outside of
the classroom,” said Elliot Gross, an Evanston Township High School student.
“Hearing Israeli music makes the language come alive."
concert, part of a much broader effort to promote Hebrew-language classes in
public high schools, was one of many projects funded last year by the Jewish
United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Community
Foundation for Jewish Education. JUF and CFJE provide millions of dollars
annually to support a wide range of Jewish educational programming at all
This year, beyond the broader funding,
JUF/Federation is awarding $250,000 in expanded grants to boost participation
and inspire excellence in targeted priority areas.
Chicago-area groups will get grants of $3,800 to $65,000. Programs funded range
from dynamic Israeli cultural excursions for Hebrew students – like the concert
above – to expanded staff support for middle-school youth group programming, to
peer-led educational outreach to Jewish 20-somethings.
hope these grants will stimulate innovation and focus our priorities in the
areas of early childhood, supplementary education, teen programming and adult
education,” said Andrea Yablon, JUF/Federation board member and chair of the
Community Foundation for Jewish Education’s Board of Directors.
Beneficiary organizations say grants like these help them ramp up
efforts to provide unique and engaging programming.
grateful that, through this grant, we can try things and see what works,” said
Abby Ashkenazi, a Jewish educator at JCC Chicago, which received special
funding to launch its “Say it in Hebrew” adult education program last
This year’s funded projects include:
Temple Anshe Sholom of Olympia Fields will create a new Southern
Suburbs Community Religious School, which also will serve students from
Congregation Am Echad and Temple B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom in
BBYO Connect, the 6th-8th
grade program of pluralistic youth movement BBYO, will hire a professional to
create high-quality informal Jewish education experiences for Jewish middle
BEYACHAD, a combined
community Jewish high school for the northwest suburbs coordinated by Temple
Chai, Beth Judea, and Beth Am – will expand curriculum offerings and outreach
for 8th-12th grade students.
Program support will continue
for the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago’s Florence Melton
School of Adult Jewish Learning, a nondenominational adult education program
serving congregation members across Chicagoland.
The iCenter will continue to widen and deepen the impact
of local public high school Hebrew programs through its Public High School
Jewish Child & Family
Services’Response Center will create a professional training curriculum
for individuals who work with adolescents, through its pilot Helping
Professionals Help Teens program, part of the Chicago Teen Professionals
The Jewish Community Center of Chicago will
continue offering its popular Say It in Hebrew community ulpan program of
adult Hebrew language classes.
The Jewish Community Center
of Chicago and CFJE’s Ta’am Yisrael program will develop plans for a Teen
Hebrew Immersion Weekend for 8th graders at Camp Chi’s Perlstein
Moishe House will expand efforts
to connect Jewish 20-somethings in Chicago to the Jewish community through
peer-led outreach and home-based events.
Moving Traditions aims to run its Rosh Hodesh and Shevet
Achim Jewish learning and discussion programs for teens with over 20
Chicago institutions by 2017-18.
Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago will sponsor another Midwest
JEDCamp to convene congregation and day school educators throughout the
For more information, contact
Michelle Lawner, JUF’s assistant vice president for planning and allocations, at
312-357-4875 or MichelleLawner@juf.org.