Ma’ayanot’s Senior Interdisciplinary Day is an annual opportunity for seniors to come together and explore ideas outside their regular classes as they prepare for life after Ma’ayanot. Organized by Ma’ayanot’s Co-Directors of Interdisciplinary Programming, History Department Chair Chani Rotenberg and faculty member Dr. Rachel Feinmark, this year’s program on January 5, broadened students’ understanding of poverty in America. Students were provided opportunities to address this question and the skills and knowledge to seek out causes that are important to them and make change in the world.
Students participated in both Torah-focused and secular sessions led by their teachers. These included “Torah Perspectives on Wealth, Social Status and the Other,” “The Relationship between Poverty and Crime,” “Windows into Poverty: How Hollywood Portrays Class Struggles,” and “Conspicuous Consumption, Social Status, and Standard of Living.” Ma’ayanot also welcomed special guests from the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, who discussed “The Power of the Collective: Philanthropy Beyond Our Four Walls.”
The culmination of the program was a grade-wide Giving Circle led by Tamar Snyder Chaitovsky, MPA, senior director of Marketing and Communications at the Jewish Communal Fund, who has dedicated countless hours to enhancing financial literacy in the Jewish community. Students investigated their values around philanthropy, researched seven charities and presented them to their peers. After extensive discussion, the seniors designated the Hebrew Free Burial Association to receive a contribution in honor of their graduating class. Senior Rachel Goldzal explained, “Their message that every neshama gets the proper halachic burial they deserve completely engaged me, my group and all my peers who voted to donate to this organization. I am so thankful that we are able to help out families in need and put money toward an incredible cause.” Senior Aliza Gans reflected on the meaningful day as a whole, “It was great to see how many ways we can give back to the community!”