Student to Student turns Jewish teens into peer educators

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Participants in JCRC’s Student to Student program go into schools to introduce non-Jewish students to Judaism.

AVITAL VOROBEYCHIK , Freshman, Yeshivat Kadimah High School

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is an organization that seeks to enhance cooperation among religious, racial, ethnic and civic groups. Student to Student is one of the JCRC’s premier programs. Lauren Abraham is the director of the Student to Student program. 

“Student to Student is a program of JCRC that goes into schools and teaches (non-Jewish students) about Judaism; our Jewish lives as teens,” said Abraham.

Many local teachers whose classes are studying Judaism or the Holocaust, contact the Student to Student program in order to have Jewish teens come to their school and talk to various classes about their daily lives as Jewish teens.

“They could be learning multicultural literature, or world religions, or geography, or world history. There are a number of different classes that we talk to,” said Abraham.

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One of the main goals of Student to Student is to demonstrate to others that Jewish kids are just like any other kids.

Student to Student

“If they see a Jew, and then they hear a mean Jewish joke on Instagram, or they hear someone talking smack about the Holocaust, then those kids can say, ‘Well I met some Jewish kids,’ and they can stick up for us,” said Abraham.

Student to Student also informs kids about Jewish traditions that they may be unfamiliar with including Jewish life cycle events, Shabbat, kashrut, etc. The students are encouraged to ask questions and to get to know the Jewish students who come to speak to them. 

“The goal is not that they could get 100 on a test about Judaism, but the goal is that they see real Jewish teens,” said Abraham. 

A topic many schools discuss is the Holocaust. It is intriguing for teenagers to hear perspectives of other teenagers who may have had family members experience the events of the Holocaust or knew people who did. Often times, Student to Student will go to schools and present about Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Rememberance Day) and light a candle in the classroom. 

In lockdown during the pandemic, the JCRC stood strong and even conducted Student to Student presentations online.  

“Students would watch it, at home or in class, and we would come onto Zoom and answer questions, continuing to dialogue about Judaism,” said Abraham.

Student to Student is a very impactful program that demonstrates how Jewish teens are just as “normal” as any other teen. Even though some of us might observe Shabbat and keep kosher, we are still normal kids, too.