JWR Wandering Jews

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2004 / 27 Teves, 5764

Jews swarming to WASP schools

By Stacey Dresner

... but at what cost?

https://www.jewishworldreview.com | In the mid-1970s, Eric Albert, a teenager from a Jewish family in Waterbury, Conneticut was a day school student at the Taft School, a college preparatory school in Watertown.

Bekka Ross Russell in front of her school
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"It was a wonderful education and it presented opportunities I probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere else," said Albert who praised the school's small classes, rigorous curriculum and challenging teachers.

Today, Albert, president of his family's business Albert Brothers, and president of the Jewish Federation: Jewish Communities of Western Connecticut in Southbury, is the parent of a Taft student n his daughter Lindsay is a sophomore there.

"I do believe, along with my wife, that of all the gifts you can give your children, the best education is certainly one of them, if not the most important thing," Albert said.

Increasing numbers of Jewish families are sending their children to private New England college prep schools that were for many years centers of WASP privilege. They cite the academic excellence and social advantages that these schools offer for doing so. Most of these prep schools provide their students with an intensive liberal arts education, small classes, and top notch educators, as well as an emphasis on extracurricular activities like sports and the arts.

According to The Curriculum Initiative, a non-profit organization that brings Jewish programming to Jewish prep school students, there are 50,000 Jewish students at non-Jewish private schools around the country.

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"I think Jewish parents care very much about education," said Rachel Bashevkin, assistant director of studies at Westover School, an all-girl institution in Middlebury. "All parents care about education, but Jewish parents in particular see a quality education for their children as important and are willing to pay for it."

As the number of Jewish students at prep schools around Connecticut grows, these schools, often with the guidance of Jewish student associations and Jewish faculty advisors, are attempting to provide more Jewish programming.

Two prep schools in Connecticut even have Jewish chaplains: Rabbi Eric Polokoff at Taft School in Watertown and Rabbi Reena Judd at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, who as a teenager attended Kimball Union Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire.

"Part of the reason I wanted to do this was because I went to a boarding school," Judd explained. "When I went I was the only Jew and I had to go to Dartmouth College Hillel to get any Judaic influence."

Judd had to travel 30 minutes twice a month to participate in Jewish programming with Dartmouth's Jewish students and its rabbi.

"That was so pivotal to my self-identification," she said. "It is hard being in the tenth grade and away from home and doing what is right by our culture and faith I'm there to be a Jewish presence for the kids who might be searching out Jewish role models."


Besides her academic role at Westover, Rachel Bashevkin also serves as the faculty advisor to Westover's Jewish Student Association.

Bashevkin, who has been on the staff at Westover since 1981, said the school "is more responsive to Jewish students' needs now than we were then. Part of that is that the number of Jewish students has grown."

Back in the early 1980s, the school did not run specifically Jewish programs for the entire school, nor was there much organized socializing between Jewish students.

"Now there is an annual Holocaust Chapel and the Chanukah party, attended by the whole school, is a major event of the year," Bashevkin said.

Making sure that this kind of Jewish programming is offered at local prep schools is important, Bashevkin said, especially for boarding students.

"Most of them are away from home, synagogue and youth groups — away from Friday night candle lighting, away from programs like Yachad and MAKOM Hebrew High School," she said.

Robin Papper, 17, a senior at Westover, and president of the school's Jewish Student Association, said that being a part of the group is a "cool opportunity to meet other Jewish students."

Besides being president of the Jewish Student Association, Robin is head of the social committee, the prom committee, the cooking club and is one of seven heads of the school (comparable to student council). She also is on the tennis team.

"I wanted a private school education and this was a good environment," she explained. "It is challenging and gets you more prepared for college life."


Fifteen-year-old Bekka Ross Russell of Wallingford attended a public middle school in her hometown.

"Academically, I wasn't being challenged at all at the schools in my town. I was doing independent stuff in almost every one of my classes. It wasn't enough, I was getting bored," she said. "I knew I wasn't going to go to another public school."

After looking around at all of the options n nearby day schools and other prep schools in the area, she and her parents decided that Miss Porter's in Farmington was the best choice for her.

Bekka is now a junior at Miss Porter's. She leaves her dorm room for classes at 7 a.m. in the morning and doesn't return until 7 p.m. at night, then spends three to four hours on homework. Bekka is also taking eight classes a semester, more than the six required.

"Academically, I have never been challenged like this before," she said. "It is an amazing school. You can take really interesting classes and the teachers are incredible. Academically, there is nothing like it."

Bekka's mother, Dorothy Goldberg, the cantor at Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison, Conn. added that besides the academics, "we felt it would be good for her not to have the distraction of boys."

"The all-girl school thing is helpful," Russell agreed. "It makes such a huge difference — there are none of the social classes and social castes of other places."

Bekka's family is Reform and belongs to Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, Conn. but when she was young, they were "not involved Jewishly," Goldberg said. Bekka's father just converted to Judaism three years ago.

But while some might be concerned that Jewish students will stray from Judaism at a non-Jewish private school, Bekka has embraced Judaism, becoming one of the most active students in the Jewish Student Union. She holds two board positions on her local National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) chapter, and next summer will participate in a semester of study in Israel, for which she will receive credit at Miss Porter's. She also has started a Hebrew class that meets at the school one night a week.

"It is possible [to be Jewishly active] but it is hard work," Bekka admitted. "I have to get a lot of special permissions and I have to get a lot of stuff done, but our school is really good about it. Once they know that this if for real and you are really doing religious stuff and getting involved in the leadership of youth groups, they are very supportive."

Jessica Lemoine, a messianic Jew, who belongs to Congregation Shuvah Yisrael in Simsbury, Conn., which is affiliated with the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, has been the faculty advisor for the student-run Jewish Student Union at Miss Porter's School for the past six years.

Once a month Lemoine and the 20 or so students involved in the group have a Shabbat dinner. The group also tries to have monthly guest speakers who will do Torah or Talmud study, and once a month, the group has an outing, does a community service project or celebrates a Jewish holiday if one falls around that time.

"It seems to me that before we actively began the Jewish Student Union, the kids had to fend for themselves during the holidays," Lemoine said. "Since I've been there, if the kids can't get home for the holidays, we can find them a family or a local synagogue."

"It is easier for students at boarding schools if there is an active faculty advisor," she added. "If I weren't here, I don't know how much they would do, not that the school wouldn't try. But if there is a faculty member who can take it on, it will be more encouraging to the students."

Lemoine "is such an amazing person," says Bekka. "The Jewish Student Union probably wouldn't exist without her help."

Bekka said that she attended a service once at Lemoine's messianic congregation--after Sept. 11 occurred — because she was seeking comfort at that difficult time and "couldn't get to my synagogue."

"She offers her temple as a last resort," Bekka added.

"When I first found out I was very worried," admitted Dorothy Goldberg, Bekka's mother. Goldberg said she spoke with Lemoine when she learned she was messianic, shared her concerns, and now accepts Lemoine as the leader of her daughter's Jewish student group.

"She is totally non-proselytizing," Goldberg said. "As a progressive Jew, I feel it is important to be open and it is important to learn as you go along. This is an experience I have learned from."

At Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, around half of the 75 members of the Jewish Student Union are not even Jewish — they just enjoy activities like the four annual Sabbath dinners and the JSU's yearly kickball game against the Christian Fellowship.

"I think they want to be a part of it because it is cool," said senior Jesse Oppenheim, president of the Jewish Student Union.

Oppenheim, a boarding student from New York City, said he chose Loomis Chaffee because "it allows me to have a better education and because I get to choose what I want to learn here" n classes like The American Presidency, and English course called "Myths and Legends," French, Calculus and Advanced Acting.

Oppenheim said that he hasn't dealt with any anti-Semitism at Loomis, but is often asked questions like "What is Yom Kippur?"

The High Holidays have at times been difficult for Oppenheim and other Jewish students.

"Before, I haven't been able to get home and didn't have Yom Kippur off. In between services I would run to class."

As a senior and as president of the JSU, Oppenheim this year "made a stink" and the school did not hold classes on Yom Kippur. But Oppenheim said that probably won't happen every year. "It helped that we were organized and that it was a long weekend."

"Jews are certainly not the majority, but they are very comfortable here," said Phyllis Greenspan, faculty advisor of the JSU. "There is a tremendous emphasis on acceptance and diversity."


Rabbi Eric Polokoff of B'nai Israel in Southbury has been assistant chaplain of Jewish students at the Taft School for the past three years.

Approximately seven percent of the school's 575 students are Jewish.

"The organized Jewish community here is smaller than larger n Jews are a minority at Taft, but the sense of the community, from the headmaster, down through the chaplain, through the parents is one of trying to be responsive and helpful to maintaining Jewish identity."

The Taft community is so accepting that in June, a Torah scroll was dedicated at Taft's Walker Hall, a former church that was recently purchased by the school to be used as a an interfaith community space.

Once a month Polokoff leads a Shabbat service, the school holds a Chanukah celebration, and last spring, the students organized their own Passover seder. Polokoff's congregation welcomes all Jewish boarding students who cannot travel home for Jewish holidays to attend services there n all things that help to foster ties with Judaism.

"This is a very formative time in their lives and it is a time to engage them Jewishly," Polokoff said. "Also, these tend to be strong students and future opinion makers and it behooves the Jewish community to reach out to them."

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Stacey Dresner is a reporter for the Jewish Ledger. Comment by clicking here.

© 2004, Jewish Ledger