Expanding the Learning Community
Machon Siach envisions a model that places the high school at the center with alumni, parents, and community both benefiting from and contributing to the research and learning at SAR High School. In 2017, Machon Siach initiated or reinvigorated several new programs to include a broader sector of the community. The programs are designed to reinforce the partnership of the parent body and reconnect with alumni while drawing them into learning experiences at SAR. Additionally, a number of programs involve the community beyond SAR as well as educators from other institutions. Not only does this provide SAR with a fresh outlook on important issues affecting the school community, but it also helps to builds a network for launching new initiatives. Machon Siach also provides support for its educators to act as scholars in residence on college campuses with a strong alumni presence, giving faculty fellows the ability to reach a wider audience for topics under research and exploration within their cohorts.
(Applications for the 2019 Bogrim program will be available Spring 2019).
In September 2017, Bogrim, the program for SAR alumni, was relaunched as a yearlong fellowship under the umbrella of Machon Siach. A group of 10 college age students was selected from applicants around the country. The students represent a diverse group of young men and women from the classes of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Campuses represented include Brandeis, U of Michigan, Princeton, Columbia, U of Wisconsin, Baruch, YU, and Hunter.
The group meets online for webinars which reflect topics under study in Machon Siach. Past webinars have explored the breadth of Israel education in the SAR curriculum and Zionist/Diaspora identity and were taught by Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz and Rabbi Tully Harcsztark respectively. Rabbi Shmuel Hain, the program's director, meets individually with each student to review his/her plans for a culminating project or program on campus. Participants welcome the opportunity to reestablish ties with the SAR Community. In late May, the Bogrim fellows return to SAR High School for a week of intensive study around a particular theme. The goal is to promote the interaction between graduates and the school community, re-invigorate Jewish learning, and send students back to campus with new ideas and fresh perspectives on issues in the Modern Orthodox world
Bogrim 2018 - American Citizenship & Modern Orthodox Judaism
Link: Learning Materials
Video: Panel discussion on Citizenship
Bogrim 2015 - Israel and the Diaspora
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (IPC) Reading group
As a project of Machon Siach, the IPC Reading Group has a distinctly educational bent, with education broadly defined. The group, comprised of academics and public intellectuals, meets monthly to discuss a body of literature regarding the history, politics, and social implications of the conflict. While the members of this group are not positioned to directly impact the conflict or define the possible terms of its resolution, they seek to address practical questions: Should the educators in the Modern Orthodox community teach about the conflict and its core issues? If so, in what manner and what would success look like? These questions require thoughtful consideration of the content with an eye towards whether and how that content might be made useful in the broader communal context. It also demands the consideration of the range of competing goals in teaching Israel Education.
(Applications for 2019-2020 will be available in August 2019)
In the fall of 2017, Machon Siach embarked on a new model of adult education involving parents and grandparents in an immersive, collaborative learning experience. Taught by Dr. Tammy Jacobowitz and Ms. Shuli Taubes, the parent intensive provides the opportunity for adult learners to carefully consider and reflect upon their own beliefs and commitments while gaining exposure and appreciation for other perspectives and positions. Topics of research are geared toward issues impacting the school community and will also examine central themes and questions in the Bible and Jewish Philosophy. Called Makom B'Siach,( literally a place in the conversation) the group is designed to build on the success of the adult education series taught by SAR faculty. In Makom B'Siach, parents learn with a group of dedicated, committed peers on a monthly basis, tackling some of the same issues that their children do in the SAR High School curriculum. Applicants were assembled to reflect the student body from communities in Manhattan, New Jersey, Westchester, Queens, Connecticut, and Riverdale. There are parents who are completely new to the school and veteran parents seeing their 5th child through the school process. Some parents have extensive learning backgrounds while for others, this type of learning is a new experience. Dr. Jacobowitz explains that, "We dreamed of creating an immersive kind of program where parents would have the opportunity to build connections with each other around Torah learning, to hear from a diversity of voices around Torah and to reclaim for themselves their place within the learning tradition. Makom is about much more than great content; it is about creating a community of stakeholders in our tradition, from a mature, wise vantage point." Each class addresses a subject connected to Bible or Jewish History. Emphasis is placed on discussion and personal reaction to the topics. Group members also have the opportunity to sit down together for a meal at each meeting, to help them connect as a group. Ms. Taubes observes that Makom B'Siach fits the philosophy of SAR High School and builds on the notion of interraction between school and community.
Click HERE to read about Deborah David's experience as a member of the Makom B'siach parent program.
Administrators' Group on Substance Use
In response to concerns that substance use has become normalized in the teenage experience in many high schools in the Jewish community, Machon Siach has convened a group of high school administrators from day schools in the tri-state area. All have expressed a significant interest in developing a fuller (more research-based) understanding of substance use among adolescents (in America and in our communities). They have also expressed significant interest in developing a statement of shared values and commitments on the substance use issue- shared with parents and communal leaders. Goals under consideration include sharing best practices from each other for intervention strategies , developing a code of conduct on substance use issues and for school partnership on accepting students with substance use history. The group seeks to study causes of substance use such as “party culture”, peer pressure, anxiety/stress. The group will culminate with a retreat in June, which is geared toward meeting intensively with each other, learning from professionals in the treatment and therapeutic community, agreeing on future objectives, and structuring ongoing collaboration.
Click HERE to read Rabbi Tully Harcsztark’s blog post “A Fourfold Partnership” about this initiative
Scholars In Residence
In addition to the Bogrim alumni program, Machon Siach seeks to connect with SAR High School graduates living on college campuses in the United States. Through the scholars in residence program, esteemed faculty members present current topics of research to college communities on campuses where many of our alumni reside. A recent event at Brandeis University in November 2017, drew a large group of attendees not only from the SAR alumni population, but also from the greater Jewish student community. Fellows are also invited to speak on Machon Siach related topics at other Jewish Day Schools and in communal settings outside of SAR.
Click here to watch a conversation with Scholar in Residence, Dr. Tammy Jacobowitz and Rabbi Tzvi Sinensky, the founding Rosh Beit Midrash at Kohelet Yeshiva in Lower Merion, PA..
The Jewish People Policy Institute Dialogue (JPPI Dialogue)
JPPI is a Jerusalem based policy think tank whose goal is to ensure the thriving of the Jewish People and Jewish Civilization by engaging in strategic thinking and planning on issues pertaining to World Jewry. Read more about their mission and projects on their website: www.jppi.org.il. For the past 5 years, JPPI has invited Jewish leadership worldwide to participate in a structured Dialogue on critical matters relating to the Jewish community. JPPI then incorporates the input of its participants into reports which influence its policy decisions. Machon Siach hosted a session of this year’s Dialogue on January 30, 2018, focused on Israel-Diaspora Relations. Click here to see the slides from the JPPI presentation. The session was attended by 25 principals from Jewish high school and middle schools across the tri-state area and moderated by Shmuel Rosner, an Israeli journalist and publisher. JPPI tasked SAR and its guests with providing action-oriented recommendations aimed at enhancing and expanding communication and interaction among and between Israel, and major Jewish communities worldwide with an open and pluralistic approach. Comprehensive reports on the findings and proposed recommendations from each of the four previous structured Dialogues have been produced and presented to the Israeli Cabinet, other governmental bodies, and Jewish organizations throughout the world. JPPI reports have become a respected resource for decision makers as they shape and plan for the Jewish future.
Click HERE to read the JPPI results and report on the 2018 Dialogue