A four-week summer program that uses academic courses to help high-school students explore the importance of Jewish values, traditions and thought will begin its fourth year July 2 at Brandeis University.
“The courses provide intellectual and creative challenges,” said Leslie Grossman, assistant director of the Genesis program at the Massachusetts school. “We have educators who are very familiar with adolescents and who are experts in their field.”
Students select one of the following fields to study: international relations, law, theater arts, history or film. Four days a week they attend a three-hour class in their field. After lunch, the teens choose an elective — hands-on workshops that let them explore the arts and their identity, according to Grossman.
“There is a World Wide Web workshop in which they learn how to make their own Web page, an improvisation workshop, and others in photography, martial arts as a way of peace, creative writing and klezmer music,” she said. “Students will explore the subject and then create something for presentation at the end of the session. The photography group, for instance, may exhibit its pictures.”
She pointed out that presentations are also expected from the work done in the academic classes. In previous years, the law course staged a mock trial, the international relations class had a mock peace conference, and the theater group performed a play.
Because Genesis encourages intellectual risk-taking, experimentation and creativity, no grades are given and there is no credit for the program. Instead the 12 to 18 students in each class have a chance to meet individually with their professors and receive a written evaluation at the end of the program.
Grossman said Genesis usually receives about 100 applications from students entering the 10th through 12th grades and that this year there is room for only 75. Students should get recommendations from their school counselors and teachers, and submit their grades.
“We are looking for highly motivated students,” said Grossman, who noted that each Wednesday participants perform community service in the Boston area. They may also be assigned to learn about a particular country and then perform a skit or a song based on what they learned.
Grossman said that participants come from all over the United States, and from such foreign countries as Israel, England and Turkey. They have ranged from the secular to the Orthodox, she noted.
Tuition for this coed program is $3,700 and covers room and board, including kosher meals. The Sabbath is observed, so no formal programs are held on Saturday. Participants are encouraged to explore how others observe the day.
The application deadline for those seeking financial assistance is March 1; for all others it is March 15. Acceptance letters will be mailed out before April 3.
For information on the Genesis program, call (781) 736-8416.