The Blessings of Teens: HUC-JIR Miller High School Honors Program

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Caryn Roman, New York School of Education Student, writes:

Miller High School Honors Program students discuss biblical britot and their own expectations for each other (Photo courtesy Jacob Maier, NFTY Communications Vice-President, who joined our first session)

Saturday morning at 10:00 am is not a time when most people would choose to stand in front of a group of teenagers. And yet, that’s where I found myself on September 13, 2014 at the opening session of the Miller High School Honors Program

The Miller High School Honors Program provides highly motivated 11th and 12th grade students with the opportunity to learn with HUC-JIR students and faculty and other leaders of the Reform Movement. At bi-monthly sessions, teens explore contemporary issues through a Jewish lens, developing leadership skills, strengthening personal Jewish identity, and building peer community.

Our opening session centered on blessings: the blessings we offer each other and ourselves and the blessings we offer to our community as a whole. Together, twenty teens from the tristate area (and, in one case, beyond) considered the blessings and promises included in various britot (covenants) in the Torah and created a new brit to guide our community in the coming year.

Upcoming sessions will focus on Jewish responses to topics our Miller High School Honors Program participants themselves chose: LGBTQ and gender issues, conceptions of God, particularism versus universalism, whether there are “good Jews,” how to enact our values through acts of tzedakah and tikkun olam, and more.

We look forward to experiencing the many blessings of the Miller High School Honors Program community all year long!

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.