Kids don’t know how lucky they have it.
They go to school, get driven to sports and music classes, have play dates, watch TV, get food prepared for them and are only inconvenienced by doing homework. Generally speaking, they get to pursue their interests and passions with the support of their parents.
Prozdor hazily exists somewhere between passion and compulsion. Yes, parents like to make their kids go to Prozdor (and for that, I thank them), but once they are here it is our job to make sure they get plugged in to the right opportunities that will help them take ownership of their Jewish learning experience. While there is something for every teen and every kind of learner at Prozdor, they won’t enjoy coming to class unless we provide them with a meaningful experience. And that’s on us.
The Prozdor staff is now hard at work putting the finishing touches on a grand redesign of the Prozdor experience. Rather than envisioning Prozdor as a semester-by-semester exploration of interesting classes in a liberal-arts setting, we are building something much better.
Classes will now be organized by 14 departments, including education, visual arts, Bible, beit midrash, Hebrew, media/production and Israel studies, to name a few. Students will declare concentrations, immerse themselves in the kinds of classes they are most passionate about and be able to take a sequence of courses that will provide them with the kinds of valuable skills and knowledge they would not otherwise receive.
We are also crafting a series of semester- and yearlong fellowships in different areas that speak to particular niches: an elite teen choir, a social-justice fellowship and an educational-leadership certificate, among others. For those students who want more than just the Sunday experience, or something in place of Sunday mornings, these opportunities will resonate.
And we’re not finished. We are rolling out six- to eight-week “studios” that offer specific courses of interest on Sunday afternoons or Tuesday evenings, while continuing to offer a robust slate of travel experiences to destinations like Israel, Ukraine, the American South, New York City and beyond.
It’s a thrilling time to be at Prozdor as we meet a challenge that could not be more pressing: how to create a new center for teen learning, engagement and action that will offer any student the opportunity to find deep meaning and connection to Judaism.
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