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Junior Academy - Grades 7 & 8

The Junior Academy is our program for 7th & 8th grades, and offers lots of flexibility to allow teens to stay involved on their timetable, engaging their minds and bodies in those Jewish activities which interest them. We offer formal learning, trips, community events, and lots of opportunities for social justice work! Community service hours are available for all relevant parts of the program as well, including the trips.
  • Limud (Lifelong Learning) – The year is divided into three seasonal trimesters: Fall (Oct-Dec), Winter (Jan-Mar), and Spring (Apr-June). Courses are offered from 6-7:15pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in each trimester. Past course topics include trope (Torah changing), guitar, Jewish cooking and food culture, Modern Hebrew, leadership development, and comparative Judaism. Our Holocaust class is offered every trimester, and students are asked to take it at some point.
         o 7th graders: select a minimum of two courses, in the fall trimester and then one in either winter or spring. Students may elect to take a course in all three trimesters if they wish.
         o 8th graders: select a minimum of one course in any trimester. Students may elect to take a course in two or all three trimesters if they wish.
  • Avodah (Community Engagement) – Students are asked to participate in as many community events as they can. These include High Holy Day events, Shabbat and holiday services/observances, and special events like the Purim Carnival
  • Tzedek (Social Justice) – Students are asked to participate in as many social justice events as they can. These include Stop Hunger Now, Mitzvah Day, Project Ezra, and sandwich making events for the NY Common Food Pantry
  • Tiyulim (Trips) – The hallmark of our teen program are our trips. They facilitate group bonding and allow our teens to deepen their own connection to Jewish tradition. Each grade has a unique experience. Trip costs are heavily subsidized.
         o 7th graders participate in the Day Out in New York City, which takes place for a full day on a Sunday. Students and chaperones explore some aspect of Jewish history/culture found in New York and see a Broadway show featuring a relevant teen or Jewish theme. Participation is strongly encouraged of all 7th graders.
         o 8th graders participate in the social action-based New Orleans. Taking place over Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, teens learn about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and work to help the Lower Ninth Ward continue to rebuild from the disastrous effects of the storm. Social programming allows for sightseeing and a jazz concert!
  • Youth Group Programming – From time to time, opportunities will come up for our 7th & 8th graders to attend youth group events with teens from other congregations in the area and sponsored by NFTY, the Reform youth movement, as part of their middle school initiative. Some of these events will be half- or full-day programs, while others may be overnights or weekends. Depending on the nature of the event, it may include Jewish learning, social action, and/or worship, but all of them feature virtually unlimited fun.

The Academy - Grades 9-12

The Academy is our innovative program for 9th-12th graders, and offers formal learning, trips, community events, and lots of opportunities for social justice work. The Academy allows you to choose what you learn, how you interact and what you experience. Community service hours are available for all relevant parts of the program as well, including the trips.

  • Limud (Lifelong Learning) – Teens attend approximately 8 “Academy evenings” held for 2.5 hours on Sunday nights, every 4-6 weeks. Each night features:
         o A social action or social justice project, and usually designed and organized by members of our youth group board.
         o Dinner
         o Kehillah (community), a time for the entire group to learn together about a relevant issue or hear from a guest speaker.
        o A Major course which teens will pick from a list of electives and study for 3-4 sessions. Past course topics include Israeli government, Jewish art, leadership development, Modern Hebrew, and more.
  • Avodah (Community Engagement) – Students are asked to participate in as many community events as they can. These include High Holy Day events, Shabbat and holiday services/observances, and special events like the Purim Carnival
  • Tzedek (Social Justice) – Students are asked to participate in as many social justice events as they can. These include Stop Hunger Now, Mitzvah Day, Project Ezra, and sandwich making events for the NY Common Food Pantry
  • Tiyulim (Trips) – The hallmark of our teen program are our trips. They facilitate group bonding and allow our teens to deepen their own connection to Jewish tradition. Each grade has a unique experience. Trip costs are heavily subsidized.
         o 9th graders participate in the Civil Rights Journey, which takes over a long weekend, usually in February or March. Students and chaperones travel to Atlanta and Alabama, seeing the famous sites of the Civil Rights Movement and exploring the Jewish connections to this pivotal time in American history.
        o 10th-12th graders participate in an international trip, rotating between Italy, Prague, and Israel. The two Europe trips take place over the Presidents’ Day break, and the Israel trip takes place during the December break. Of course, each trip’s has a different itinerary, but at the core of each one are opportunities for Jewish learning, social action, and fun!
        o 10th-12th graders can instead opt to participate in the RAC Trip to Washington, DC if travel aboard is not feasible. On this trip, teens learn how to “pray with their feet” as they partner with the Reform movement’s advocacy group, the Religious Action Center. Teens see some of the sites in DC, but the highlight is learning about current political issues and then crafting a personal lobby speech about one of them and delivering it before a senator or representative.
  • Youth Group Programming – As students in the Academy, our teens are automatically able to participate in two youth groups: YETI and NFTY.
        o YETI stands for Youth Engagement at Temple Israel and is our congregation’s local youth group. Our Youth Advisor, Laura Schultze, guides our YETI Board as they work to create dozens of events, programs, and activities throughout the year. YETI organizes the social action project at each Academy evening, as well as Monthly Shabbat Dinner Club evenings. Additional events include worship opportunities, Broadway shows, volunteer programs, and social events.
        o NFTY stands for North American Federation of Temple Youth and is the Reform movement’s youth group. As residents of New York City, we are part of the New York Area Region, called NFTY-NAR. Over the course of the year, teens can attend weekend retreats, day-long social justice events, and more.