April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This year the BPY middle school is running a Better Together program which is generously supported by a prominent national foundation. The program provides students with a unique intergenerational opportunity. The theme for the year is “Tradition.” Throughout the year, students will be meeting with residents, at an assisted living facility, as they get to know each other and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of handing down our customs and traditions to the next generations. As part of this comprehensive tikkun olam/social justice program, the students participate in training sessions, platforms for reflection, monthly visits, study of religious textual sources that discuss tradition and a culminating project. During Advisory, students participate in workshops about the importance of creating intergenerational connections and ways to learn from each other. They are also given opportunities to practice these skills, reflect on their experiences and discuss ideas for next steps.

Last week, the program kicked off with an eighth grade trip to Manhattan to see the Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof. The students and their grandparents had a special opportunity to enjoy this show as they sat side by side. The students were mesmerized by the production, and although many of them do not speak or understand Yiddish, they connected to the themes of the show in a very powerful way. As they looked across the theater, there were audience members of all ages enjoying a story being retold in a language that has been shared by Jews for generations. The off Broadway production highlighted the questions that many Jews face each day as they reflect on how their traditions and day to day life intersect. After the show, the students had a unique opportunity to meet with members of the cast and ask them questions about their craft and the experience of being part of a Yiddish production. A special thank you to Jordan Hirsch and the cast members who took time to speak with the students. It was truly a memorable experience.

This week, students practiced their interviewing skills as they met with special guests and learned about the significance of traditions, participated in chavruta style learning about hilchot Chanukah and then interviewed their special guests about their Chanukah traditions. While enjoying a festive Chanukah brunch, they realized that although we do the same mitzvot, all families have traditions that make the experience their own.

Later this week, seventh grade students traveled to The Jewish Home assisted living facility in River Vale where they sang Chanukah songs with the residents. The students shared their favorite songs and also took requests from the residents. You could feel the room fill with light as the students’ happy voices sang of the miracles of Chanukah! The students gained a deeper appreciation for what it means to continue your traditions no matter where you are living or what stage you are in your life.

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