JRF is proud to announce that it will launch the TEL Post B’nai Mitzvah Program in the fall of 2009. Tel is the Hebrew word for an archeological hill, and JRF is using the word as an acronym for Teens: Experience and Learning. JRF seeks to create a true tel experience for our teens based on the opportunity to dig through first-hand “life-centered” experiences and sift out new, meaningful educational gleanings that are personally relevant to their lives.
The TEL program was created in response to the need expressed by Reconstructionist Education Directors for effective post b’nai mitzvah programming.
All JRF congregations and havurot are welcome to participate if they can put together a “team” of youth willing to try out the program. The first year will be geared towards eighth and ninth graders, with subsequent grades added in each successive year until the TEL program includes eighth through twelfth graders. As with most teen programs, developing a critical mass will be key to making this program work in each community. We encourage JRF congregations that are close to one another to explore combining youth to help develop critical masses. We hope congregations who cannot get “teams” of youth to participate in the TEL program will encourage students in 8th through 12th grades to take advantage of the No’ar Hadash kallot, which are more suitable for individual participation.
This program is framed and anchored by two kallot (retreats) at Camp JRF. The first will take place October 16-18, 2009 and the second May 14-16, 2010. They will be similar to the successful No’ar Hadash kallot, and suitable for those who have and have not participated in them. Eighth and ninth graders across the continent will stay connected to one another throughout the year with a TEL Facebook page.
In between the kallot, eight two-hour havayot (experiential learning opportunities) will be held in each community. These will be based on the effective havaya model of Camp JRF. If you wish to supplement the eight havayot with more frequent programming (such as bi-weekly or even weekly gatherings), JRF will be interested in how your community is doing that and will connect you to other congregations and havurot with the same intention.
Each community will also need to hire a madrih/a (educator/counselor) to attend the kallot and teach the havayot. JRF will provide support in identifying madrihim wherever possible and will provide ongoing training and support to these people throughout the year.
The curriculum of the TEL Program is based on the Values of Spiritual Peoplehood, one of the key approaches to Reconstructionist education and the basis of the Camp JRF curriculum. Although we are capitalizing on lessons and successes of Camp JRF, this program will be equally comfortable for campers and non-campers alike. Each year will have a theme. The first year’s theme will be Tikkun Olam (Social Justice/Repair of the world).
The havayot will generally be structured according to the following arc: two sessions actively learning about the topic or value in greater depth, two preparing for activities related to that value that the youth design (on their own or from a menu created by the curriculum writer, the madrih/a and the education director), two sessions devoted to doing the activity or action, one planning how to share their experience with their larger community and the final session creatively communicating their experiences to their community.
At the spring kallah, the participants will be reunited with old friends in person and will share the learning they did over the course of the year. They will then be able to deepen their social relationships and learning together with another layer of culminating experiences and activities.
Congregations interested in participating in the program should contact Rabbi Erin Hirsh, JRF Director of Education at email@example.com or 215-885-5601, ext. 16.
The JRF is grateful to the Schocken Foundation for making this program possible and would welcome further financial support. If you or someone you know is interested in more information about supporting the TEL program, please contact Rabbi Erin Hirsh, JRF Director of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-885-5601, ext. 16.