The Student to Student program sends Jewish high school students to Richmond area schools that lack a Jewish presence, where they talk about their lives as Jewish teenagers and answer any questions that students at these schools may have about Judaism. Student to Student empowers Jewish teens to talk about Judaism and Israel with proficiency, authenticity, and confidence. During presentations, Ambassadors provide insights into their lives as Jewish teens and put a “human face” to Judaism. Training and supervision are provided by the JCRC.
By Benjamin Pomerantz
As a high school student in St. Louis, I participated in a community outreach program called Student to Student. Created in 1992 by the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council, Student to Student recruits, trains and provides resources to Jewish high school juniors and seniors and sends them in teams to other area high schools that lack a large Jewish presence.
There, in select World Religions and Social Studies classes, they discuss their lives as Jewish teenagers, and answer questions students have about Judaism and Jewish life. This year, as a college junior at the University of Richmond, I am thrilled to be the Federation’s Richmond JCRC intern, bringing Student to Student to my new Richmond community.
I remember during one of my visits in high school, a girl in a World Religions class asked, “Can you eat cheeseburgers?” My teammates and I responded by explaining the dietary laws of the Torah, and that people belonging to different branches of Judaism follow Kashrut in different ways. By teaching these students, we were able to help inform. By having the opportunity to ask questions, the students come away with a better understanding of the lives of Jewish teenagers. They were able to see that while we practice different religions, we are, in many ways, very similar to them, we are all teenagers, and we have more in common than we realize. The program also helped me recognize how much I don’t know about other cultures and religions, and even about Judaism, encouraging me to ask questions of my own to those who are more knowledgeable than I am.
Religious strife is at the root of many conflicts around the world, separating people by religion and breeding animosity between those groups that see each other as “the other.” But at the same time, we must realize that all of us are alike in some way. This is the goal of Student-to-Student program, to stress the similarities between all people. By talking with each other and asking questions—face-to-face--we can begin to understand our similarities and accept our differences in order to foster tolerance.
I am very excited to initiate the Richmond Student to Student program. If you know a Jewish high school junior or senior who you feel would be a good fit for Student to Student, please take a moment and nominate him/her via our nomination form at www.JewishRichmond.org/JCRC/S2S.
To reach JCRC Intern Benjamin Pomerantz with questions about Student to Student, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benjamin Pomerantz is the JCRC Intern, working specifically on the Student to Student program. He grew up in St. Louis, where he participated in Student to Student and NFTY Missouri Valley. During the summers, he attended URJ 6 Points Sports Academy, as a camper and later as a counselor. Benjamin is currently a junior at the University of Richmond, where he is majoring in American Studies and Rhetoric & Communication Studies. Outside of class, he is on UR’s Hillel leadership team, plays Club Baseball, drums in the African Drumming ensemble, and participates in a number of multicultural programs on campus. He is very excited to bring Student to Student to the Richmond community!