Teen learning is a crucial piece of the Temple Isaiah lifelong learning program. During their year of B’nai Mitzvah year and after, we seek to intensify our students’ knowledge about important Jewish topics, give them social opportunities to be together as a group, and to allow them to explore Judaism in a way that is meaningful to them personally.
We have two programs for our teens: Gesher for 7th Grade, and Next Dor for 8th–12th Grade, which is entirely new for the 2019–20 Academic year.
Gesher means bridge in Hebrew, and our Gesher program is a bridge from our Religious School Sunday morning programs to our teen programs. Students in the Gesher program have an opportunity for intensive learning about the Holocaust and the modern State of Israel (from its formation through its current issues). As part of the learning process, the class takes a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum each spring. While the topics are serious, the teachers in the Gesher program teach through creative and interactive means.
In addition education, throughout the course of the year the Gesher program holds Gesher Community Days in which students participate in activities that are off-curriculum and can be social, social action, or informal learning opportunities. This allows the students to spend time together in a more relaxed setting and build on friendships formed in the earlier years, while also welcoming in new students.
The name of our Next Dor program is a play on the Hebrew word “dor” which means generation. In this program we help students understand that Judaism is theirs to carry forward with them. Beginning in 8th Grade and continuing through High School we present students with information that engages and challenges them, helping them understand Judaism on an adult level, and where they fit into the Jewish community as Reform Jews.
Participants in the Next Dor Program choose how they want to continue learning and be involved in the Jewish community as they move forward from Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Students looking to work toward confirmation and be full participants in the program choose from at least three of the following four areas:
- Sunday Evening Classes: in the Fall, Winter, and Spring, Next Dor Students will get to choose from a variety of elective classes ranging from Cooking Classes, Jews in the Movies, as well as more serious text based classes on topics impacting their lives. These elective blocks run from 6-8pm for four Sunday evenings per block.
- Serving as a Madrich/a: Students who desire and are approved by the Kulanu administration, may serve as a paid or volunteer Madrich/a (assistant) in our Sunday morning PreK–6th Grade classrooms. This program includes opportunities to refresh knowledge of basic Judaism, learn skills for educational leadership, and for older students, opportunities to specialize in a particular area.
- Overnights and Shabbatons: Each year the Next Dor Program will sponsor two Shabbatons: The Ben Topus Shabbaton in the Fall and the Next Dor Shabbaton in the Spring which the students will plan in a Sunday evening elective. Students in 10th Grade and higher will have the opportunity to participate in the L’taken Seminar on Social Justice, a national program run by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (more information here). Additionally all Temple Isaiah teens are invited to participate in the multiple regional weekends sponsored by NFTY-MAR, the Reform Jewish youth group.
- Community Involvement: This category can be just about anything a students wants to do as long as there is a Jewish connection. Opportunities abound through Temple Isaiah such as Torah reading and service participation, DreamBuilders, the Sacred Ground Committee and more. Outside of Temple Isaiah, BBYO, the Associated’s Diller Teen Fellowship, the TIkvah Program, involvement with URJ Camps and NFTY Israel trips, interfaith groups and so much more.
Students who are fully a part of the Next Dor Program (participating in three of the four above ways) will also receive one-on-one mentoring from our Rabbis and Educators. The one annual tuition fee covers the costs of the Madrichim Program, the Sunday evening classes, the Ben Topus and Next Dor Shabbatons, a significant supplement for L’Taken and NFTY Dues (for those choosing to participate in regional events). Additional costs may apply for NFTY Regional Events and programs offered outside of Temple Isaiah.
Students in 8th–12th Grades who do not want to take on the full program, are welcome to participate in any aspect of the program (except serving as a Madrich/a) on an as interested basis (à la carte fees apply).