Pictured: Shinshin working with Hebrew school students at Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid School of Jewish Studies.
I don’t know about other Hebrew schools, but for me (35 years ago) Hebrew school wasn't always the most fun place to be. But times are changing! Today, Hebrew school is “cool” much thanks to teens who help out as teachers or madrichim (teaching assistants). As I tour and work with Hebrew schools in the Milwaukee area, this is how I’m seeing Hebrew school change as a result of these teenage teaching assistants:
When teens are enthusiastic about Hebrew and Judaism, it is contagious to the students. They look up to the teens and anticipating becoming madrichim themselves someday.
Some of our local schools have the Shinshinim, 18 year olds from Israel who work in the schools. This program, sponsored by the Milwaukee Federation, makes Israel come alive for students who work the Shinshinim.
Madrichim in Hebrew schools have similar roles to counselors at Jewish camps; they are role models. Just by being present in a Jewish setting, they influence younger kids to want to be involved.
Madrichim programs keep kids involved in their synagogues / schools after B’nai Mitzvah. It is a way for them to stay connected to Judaism in the busy high school years.
Why Go Jewish? Because having your children learn from Jewish teenagers will help them see Judaism as relevant, fun, and cool. There is still time to sign up for religious school for this year! Contact Tziporah Altman-Shafer to talk about how you can “Go Jewish” in your family (414-963-2718 or TziporahA@MilwaukeeJewish.org).