New Programs in STEM and Creative Arts for Jewish Teens

For Immediate Release
Contact: Naomi Housman
Director of Innovation and Development
215-635-7300 x126
[email protected]

New Programs in STEM and Creative Arts for Jewish Teens
Melrose Park, PA
— The Jewish Community High School (JCHS) of Gratz College is launching two innovative new programs on Thursday nights this fall to engage Jewish teens through STEM and the arts: the Jewish Startup Workshop (JSW) and the Jewish Creative and Performing and Arts Program (JCAP).

JSW is geared to Jewish teens interested in social entrepreneurship and innovation. It is a great fit for young people who may have an idea for a startup, who have thought about launching an app or who are simply ready to figure out how to impact the world in their own way — through the lens of Jewish ethics and values. Students will work in teams to design innovative solutions to real-world problems through hands-on learning with social innovators, entrepreneurs and STEM professionals in the Philadelphia area. JSW facilitators and coaches will guide the teens through a lean startup process to develop their concepts and to design them using digital technology.

JCAP is the new weekly program for teens passionate about artistic expression. Through JCAP, teens will have the opportunity to focus on music, drama and fine arts (including a range of mediums and techniques). They will learn from professional Jewish artists, while making connections to Jewish culture and identity through their chosen area of specialization. There will be collaborative performances and exhibitions, as well as service learning components, enabling teens to use the arts to give back to the community. The JCAP faculty includes Deborah Baer Mozes (theater); Chana Rothman and Ken Ulansey (music); Marlene Adler, Karen Singer and D’vorah Horn-Greenberg (fine arts).

Starting in September and continuing through the spring, JSW and JCAP sessions will take place weekly on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Gratz College Mandell Campus in Melrose Park. These programs are open to Jewish teens in grades 8 through 12, and will complement JCHS’s existing weekly Sunday and Tuesday programs.
“We are thrilled that JCHS is adding these new opportunities for Jewish teens on Thursday nights. Because we have communal funding for JCHS [from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia], we are committed to offering teens options that are substantially different from what synagogues generally offer,” says Rabbi Erin Hirsh, Gratz College interim president. “In our Sunday and Tuesday weekly programs, for example, these options include five levels of Hebrew and college credit courses.

“Now, we are adding JCAP and JSW on Thursday evenings. These are true magnet programs — designed to attract creative teens who love STEM, social innovation and the creative arts, but who have never explored Jewish identity in those contexts. That’s a gap because the world abounds with Jewish artists, STEM pioneers and creative problem solvers who explicitly understand their creative work as a dimension of their Jewishness. We hope teens who belong to synagogues will continue to come to JCHS, but these are also great programs to invite ‘unaffiliated teens’ to be part of.”

 The Jewish Community High School is generously sponsored by Gratz College and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Gratz College was founded in Philadelphia in 1895 as the first independent college for Jewish studies in the Western Hemisphere. It is internationally recognized as a leader in developing effective educators, professionals, leaders and scholars, both within and beyond the Jewish community. Creating access for students everywhere to become leaders in their professions and communities, the College provides a pluralistic education, grounded in Jewish values, and offers graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs, as well as learning opportunities for adults and teens. Gratz College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, is recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the State of Israel and is a partner of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.