A conservative, egalitarian synagogue

Why Teens Come to Havurat Torah




To TIC 7th Grade Parents,

Many of you are "discussing" with your children the prospect of continuing their Jewish education now that their Bnei Mitzvot days are behind them.

As is so often the case when one is parenting (especially teens) it's not always an easy or pleasant conversation. Your children no doubt have told you that the next few years will be very busy for them. They'll be juggling academics and sports or a number of other interests. Not to mention hanging out with their friends. All of this takes time.

They may also tell you that the Havurat Torah program at TIC wouldn't really enrich their lives or their Jewish identity.

We heard it all too when our kids were that age. But, our instincts were to press ahead anyway. We did not want our children's Jewish education to end so early in their lives.

They resisted (strongly) at first. But, we told them that they had no option. In short, we made their decisions for them.

Eventually, they adapted and resisted less and less. And one miraculous day, we noticed them going off to class happily. They would come home and talk to us about their classes, the teachers and the other kids. They were learning and enjoying it. At times when they had to miss class they were actually disappointed. Our daughter graduated this year and told us how sad she was to be leaving Havurat Torah.

We watched as our children grew to be truly Jewish in their hearts and souls. The curriculum at Havurat Torah is relevant and varied. Teens can choose from many courses that will help them tie their Jewish identity to the world at large. The teachers are absolutely wonderful. The children relate to them and that enhances the learning experience. The children who stay with the program form a wonderful community around the love of Torah, hesed, mitvot, tikkun olam and each other. The Junior/Senior year trip to Israel is truly a life altering experience for many.

As our oldest goes off to college this Fall, we look back at our parenting decisions. Some were wise, some not so much. The decision to send our children to Havurat Torah was one of the best we made. It's already paid off in many ways. In fact, we're proud and pleased to say that our daughter has just enrolled in a Jewish Studies course at her college.

We wish that you could all experience a Havurat Torah graduation ceremony. You would be convinced. Words cannot convey the feeling of seeing your children, now young adults, surrounded by friends they've known since early childhood, nurtured by Nancy and her amazing staff and bursting with Jewish pride and identity. We've been to several and we are always moved by this beautiful sight.

Give your children this gift. There are so very few settings outside the home where your children can feel so safe, so accepted and so cherished. They will be better young adults and better Jews.

Be the parent who "helps" their children decide to continue on to Havurat Torah. You will never regret it and neither will they.

- Arthur Korzec, father of Sarah Korzec (who graduated in May 2013 for Havurat Torah) 

My 13 years at Temple Israel Hebrew School have taught me many things. From Kindergarten through fifth grade I learned how to count and read in Hebrew, I learned how to pray and I also learned about each Jewish holiday.

From Sixth to Eighth grade I learned about becoming a Bat Mitzavah and what it meant to become a Jewish adult. I also learned how to fight with my parents about going to Hebrew School. 

By the time I reached ninth grade, though I had learned a decent amount about my religion, I still had not learned how I personally connected to it. From ninth grade to twelfth grade in Havurat Torah, I studied why Jewish traditions are important and I learned about Jewish values and morals that will help me make difficult decisions in the future. I now have a better understanding about the struggles that Israel faces. Today, at the end of twelfth grade, I have embraced my heritage and I am excited to go off to college with pride in who I am and my Jewish Heritage. As a grow up and I become more independent I know I will still practice the traditions I learned about at Temple Israel Center. I will proudly go out into the world and be an advocate for Israel and the Jewish people. Nancy, Rabbi Tucker and the rest of the teachers at TIC Religious School and Havurat Torah have helped me to appreciate what it really means to be Jewish. 

- Sarah Korzec (Havurat Torah Class of 2013) 

The following are the 5 important life lessons I've learned at Havurat Torah.

Everyone should to be a little more like Ethan Witkovsky. I've learned here that any approach to Judaism does not require a strict, demanding mentality, and nor does it need to be taught with such a mindset. One of my favorite things about this program is the mindset of the faculty that we are here to learn, but also have a good time in the process.

You can always find more time in your life for Judaism. Somehow I've been lucky enough to be free most Wednesday evenings and have had the pleasure of coming here for three hours and enjoy some simple traditional Jewish learning, and even for people that can't make it every week. I've learned that setting aside time for special learning like this is important at all stages of life.

What you learn is important, but where you learn can be important too. If I were to forget everything I've learned at Havurat Torah (G-d forbid!), I'd still have a myriad of memories here with friends and teachers learning and enjoying each others company.

Any interaction with Nancy Parkes. Every time I talk or bump into Nancy I get a lesson in passion and Judaism apprecation. I learn lessons in morality, of my duty as a Jew to be an active member in my community, and a thousand other nice things like that that I'm surprised can be present in one beautiful lady. I mean, just look at her. This woman radiates positivity and compassion, and Nancy I wanted to thank you for all your efforts in giving us quality Jewish educations.

You are never done learning. I find myself continuously disappointed when time restricted us from going further in depth into a given topic, but I think this program is designed to teach us the idea that Judaism is a body with many different orifices. I mean this in the sense that one can approach Judaism in thousands of different ways, and get thousands of different benefits from doing so. Life is one big lesson to be learned, and I hope I can continue learning throughout my life as I've learned here at Havurat Torah.

- Daniel Grafman (Havurat Torah Class of 2013) 

One of my first memories here at Temple Israel Center was when I first realized the true meaning of Judaism: bagels and lox! I began my Jewish education here at TIC 14 years ago but it feels like it was just yesterday. Throughout the years, I was taught how to read and write in Hebrew, Jewish prayers and their meanings, what it means to be Jewish, and just how much fun it is! 

Prior to becoming a Bat Mitzvah, I thought I was too cool for Hebrew school. But as my Bat Mitzvah got closer and closer and I learned more about the responsibilities of Jewish adulthood, I was eager to continue studying Judaism. 

Continuing my education here at Havurat Torah has a great impact on my life. I learned countless lessons on connecting to Judaism, what it means to be Jewish, and just how much fun it is. I didnʼt realize just how wonderful it is to be a part of such a wonderful community as Temple Israel Center because I was too young. 

But, standing here today I cannot believe how fast time flies. As I embark on my life as a young Jewish adult, I will carry the love and lessons I learned from my wonderful teachers and friends in Havurat Torah. 

And the most important lesson I learned is that youʼre never too cool for Hebrew School.

- Rebecca Reingold (Havurat Torah Class of 2013)