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Jewish Learning Institute begins Teen Course this week

SPRINGFIELD — If a fire is consuming my neighbor’s house, do I need to help him? This and other provocative subjects will be broached at the The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) Teens course beginning Nov. 8 at the Jewish Community Center, 1160 Dickinson St.
Throughout the course’s six weeks, a group of high school students will sharpen their perspectives through examining relevant, real-life news stories, conducting impassioned mock debates, and making tough, critical decisions about their own lives.
The goal of the course is to charge high school students to become more involved in their communities and hone their leadership skills. “It is an investment in your children’s future, guiding them to become responsible, capable, and moral people,” Rabbi Yakov Wolff, co-director of the local JLI Teens chapter, said.
The course is life-changing in the most literal sense. In Bel Air, Calif., a teenage girl had recently learned about the value of life at a JLI Teens course, and she subsequently prevented a suicide at her local shopping mall, saving the person’s life. In addition, The American Jewish Youth Forum reports that academic performance in college significantly improves when students enter with a healthy sense of self and clarity of purpose.
The JLI courses provide teenagers with a safe space to grapple with life’s true challenges. “Teens live in a world where they face critical choices on a daily basis,” Esther Kosofsky, co- director, explained. “At JLI, teens explore how Jewish wisdom can be a guiding force in their lives in the 21st century. They learn not just what it means to be a Jew, but what it means to be a good human being.”
Isaac Miller, a JLI Teens student from Toronto, Canada, said, “The hour and a half I spend at JLI Teens is the most meaningful part of my week. Not only do I make tons of new friends, but the challenging exercises give me the momentum to do the millions of other things I’m busy with.”
Wolff said, “Teenagers have tons of energy and power. As responsible parents, we must do our best to provide some direction and arm them with the skills and values needed to succeed and make good decisions in life.”
Contact Wolff at 348-4978 for more information. The JLI Teens course costs $54, which includes a textbook and refreshments. To sign up for JLI Teens log onto www.LYA.org and click on Tough Decisions or email JLIteens@LYA.org.
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