Tuesday, August 10, 2010

JCRS helped hundreds of campers this summer

In the summer of 2010, 329 campers were provided “need-based” scholarship funds by the Jewish Children’s Regional Service to attend a Jewish, non-profit overnight camp.

The campers were all residents of the seven Southern states served by the New Orleans-based agency: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

The “need-based” camp scholarship program remains a long-standing and unique service dimension within the oldest and most unique Jewish Children’s agency in the country.  The JCRS camp scholarship program is well over 60 years old and the JCRS is currently 155 years old.

The Jewish youth funded for camp scholarships must qualify according to financial need, but many other social factors within the family determine the award and the amount of work needed to help a child get to camp.

Each year, a significant number of those Jewish youth funded by JCRS also experience the following circumstances: growing up in a single-parent household or a grandparent-led household; coping with serious health, mental health or conflict issues within the family; living within a household where there are no Jewish affiliations to complement those experiences that occur at camp; or living in a small town or suburb where there are few Jewish peers.

In addition to the camp scholarship itself, JCRS sometimes pays for camp clothing or transportation, or enrolls the child or his siblings in additional JCRS services that will assist the family’s children on a year-round basis.

For children who are between the ages of 9 and 16, the JCRS funds special needs assistance, has a Special Friends Club for the most socially isolated, and provides Hanukkah gifts.  “Age-specific” programs for children, under the age of nine, includes the P. J. Library monthly book subscriptions, and for those over 18 years of age, the agency funds undergraduate college aid.

All programs of the JCRS are funded primarily through annual contributions and the annual income from family scholarship funds set up at JCRS.

For more information, call 1-800-729-5277, visit the website at www.jcrs.org, or e-mail  ned (at) jcrs.org.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New on-line Jewish education program offered for region's teens

Jerusalem Educators Technology Solutions, which will facilitate an E-Pals program between youth in Birmingham and Rosh Ha’Ayin this year, is offering a new program for teens across the region.

J-Connect was developed by JETS in collaboration with Rabbi Dr. Gil S. Perl of The Margolin Hebrew Academy and Feinstone Yeshiva of the South in Memphis. It is an on-line Judaic studies program that connects Jewish youth to Judaism, Israel and each other.

Already, three Birmingham youth in grades 8 to 10 are enrolled for this year, along with about 8 teens from Nashville. Registration is open through the end of August.

Open Houses were held in Birmingham on April 26, and in New Orleans on May 3. The introductory sessions are available online at jconnecter.blogspot.com.

The program will be on Sunday mornings starting at 10 a.m. for two 16-week semesters. Students will be in groups of up to 9, in grades 5 to 7, and 8 to 10. Each student needs a computer, high-speed Internet access, a webcam, microphone and speakers to participate.

The planned curriculum is “Jewish Identity in Judaism” at 10 a.m., and “Contemporary Jewish Issues” at 11 a.m.

There are optional weekly sessions on “My Community and Me,” a mid-week component that involves pre-recorded video segments and assignments which students complete at their convenience. Subjects are Hebrew language and culture, Tanach and Mishnah.

Through a webcam, microphone and laptop, Jconnecters will interact with each other and their instructors in Jerusalem. All participants see each other and the instructor live, online, for the duration of the sessions, each in different locations.

Each session shares data such as PowerPoint Presentations, YouTube clips, songs, articles, and other forms of multi-media. An interactive wiki (www.wikispaces.com), or online platform, is specially designed for Jconnecters’ communication and collaboration. Student and teacher photos and profiles are posted on the wiki, and a username and password are required for logging in to ensure security.

Guided educational questions, informal social interaction and online interactive stimulus are supplied and monitored by JETS. Other forms of online communication will be used as needed.

For more information, email jconnecter (at) gmail.com.