Antisemitism often results from a lack of knowledge and familiarity. As a response, the JCRC in St. Louis developed the Student to Student program to reduce stereotypes and prejudice in the students it reaches. The program has been an overwhelming success for over 25 years, and in Jan. 2018, the Indy JCRC became a pilot location launching Student to Student here central Indiana.
Student to Student is a powerful tool in areas that lack a Jewish presence. Young people who have had this experience can now put a “human face” to Judaism—the best antidote to bigotry and intolerance.
The Student to Student Program reaches high school students to foster understanding and counter stereotypes.
Each presentation is given by a group of three or four Jewish high school students, who are themselves members of various denominations of Judaism (Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox). Since this is a presentation by students for students, it’s not perceived as “just another lecture.” The style of presentation is informal: the presenters encourage their peers to ask questions, and the discussion that unfolds is candid and serves as a vital element of the program.
JCRC prepares Jewish high school students to discuss a range of topics, including:
- a description of a typical day in the presenters’ lives
- the branches of Judaism, the Jewish calendar, including holidays and shabbat (the sabbath)
- Jewish life cycle traditions (birth, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, marriage, death)
- Jewish dietary practices
- Israel and the Hebrew language
- Antisemitism and the Holocaust
Presentations are enhanced by concrete demonstrations. Instead of just describing a shofar (ram’s horn), an actual shofar may be passed around and, when possible, blown by one of the presenters; instead of just describing challah, the Sabbath bread may be passed around for sampling!