April 9, 2024
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April 9, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

SAR HS Bonds With Another Student Community 

Twenty SAR High School students joined together with 20 Comp Sci High School students at their school in the Bronx where they got to know each other and learned more about their respective communities. This program was generously funded by a grant from the Jack and Gitta Nagel Foundation, Gen 3, in partnership with the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. The ultimate goal of the Nagel Gen 3 Fund is to build a bridge between communities and fight antisemitism and racism.

“Going into the Comp Sci High joint program with SAR, I was feeling a sense of anxiety,” said SAR junior Oriyan Weinberger. “I was worried that I wouldn’t connect with the other high schoolers. All of my doubts instantly dissolved when I was welcomed into the building by one of the CSH administrators who warmly greeted me. The thing that I felt so anxious about turned into an incredible opportunity to connect with people outside of the Modern Orthodox world.”

In an effort to break the ice, students participated in a speed friending exercise to get to know each other, then had lunch together. They were each assigned to tables so they sat with students from the other school. Following lunch, the groups created “identity charts,” expressing what makes each person themselves, their values and the things they love the most. They ended the day by creating new “community norms” and creating a list of “ground rules and principles” to make the program a respectful, safe and kind environment.

“The students engaged in meaningful conversations,” said Caryn Keller, SAR HS History teacher and program advisor. “It was really amazing to see how much the students found in common with each other.”

Sophomore Max Sinowitz heartily agreed. “It was extremely meaningful to see so many students, all of different ethnicities and cultures, immediately bond and talk to each other about personal subjects fairly easily,” he said. “Every student came into the program with aligning goals, so everyone was on the same page and eager to make the program a success.”

Weinberger added, “I found it particularly meaningful that all students just want to learn more about each other’s cultures and practices. For example, during lunch, I overheard a conversation where a CSH student inquired about the OU symbol on the candy that was given to us. It sparked an entire respectful and curious discussion about the Orthodox Union and kashrut.”

The students are looking forward to their next meeting which will be a service project in November. They hope to continue learning how to have meaningful conversations and foster a community of respect and understanding.

“I hope to gain a better understanding of life outside of the ‘Jewish bubble’ from this program, as well as correct any incorrect ideas I may have about other cultures, or that the Comp Sci High students may have about Jews,” said Sinowitz. “Additionally, I hope to benefit from the opportunities this program provides to improve both my Jewish and secular community.”

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