Students of The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey are currently attending “Linking the Generations” sessions with former Jewish communal leaders at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh. These programs are intended to inspire the young Jewish members of our communities to take action and advocate for Israel. The first two programs were held via Skype on September 30th and November 26th, and two more sessions are scheduled for December 10th, and 31st.
The Frisch School is the only school in the Bergen County area to have a program like this, where students can meet with former leaders of the Jewish community and learn from them. The speakers so far were George Hantgan, Lillian Marion and Allen Nydick, who all talked about their personal experiences advocating for Israel in Jewish communities, and emphasized the importance of fighting for Israel. George Hantgan, who sadly passed away December 6th at the age of 98, was founder of the JCC on the Palisades, and was also involved in the founding of both the Frisch School and the Moriah School. He was extremely active in various northern New Jersey Jewish causes. Lillian Marion shared how she was active as a member of Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley, and Allen Nydick spoke about his role as the director of major gifts at the Jewish Federation.
In the two sessions so far, the communal leaders discussed different ways to support Jewish organizations, campaign for Israel, motivate others to learn about Israel, and respond to antisemitism.
Jared Dallas, a junior who attended both sessions so far said he “was able to learn about the best way to advocate for Israel in [his] Modern Orthodox community and the U.S. as a whole. It’s so inspiring to interact with former leaders of the Jewish community and see how they advocate for Israel,” he said. Jared will also be attending the upcoming sessions.
Rabbi Joshua Schulman, a teacher and chesed coordinator in the school, initiated the program. Before Frisch had “Chesed days,” scheduled days where students are given different chesed opportunities, there was a Chesed club which visited senior citizen residences in the Paramus area. “The club no longer exists, but this was a way to renew the club and have students become involved in connecting with the previous generation on a more consistent basis.” In addition to the other chesed opportunities the school has to offer, the students can now sit in on the Skype sessions and meet these residents.
Schulman was contacted by Sunni Herman, the executive vice president of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, and together they thought of ways to create a program that was both practical and meaningful to both the students and residents.
“Once we got to know [the residents], the students were interested in making this a more regular activity, and picked topics that they were eager to hear the residents speak about at greater length. We have an incredible amount to learn from these individuals and their history and experience. We think of it as a mentorship program where the Jewish communal leaders of yesterday are mentoring the leaders of tomorrow,” Schulman said.
“I learned that we should always try to do whatever we can, and encourage others to join us in doing the right thing. They have taught us life lessons that we can take with us through the rest of high school and most importantly, through life in general. They lived in a whole different time period and experienced all these different things, but somehow we find a way to connect,” Simone Tassler, a sophomore, said about her experience.
In future programs students will learn how they can help individuals with special needs, as well as how to fundraise.
Robin Tassler, who was chair of the discussion on November 16th said, “All of the people who we talked to said that a big key in anything you do, whether it be fundraising, working with other people, or recruiting volunteers, is to have passion. When you’re passionate about something, they say, it gets other people excited to the same thing, and that’s what matters.”
Amanda Leifer, in addition to being a junior in The Frisch School, is a musician, photographer, and journalist. You can reach her at [email protected]