Brandeis Launches Distance-Learning Program for Teenagers from Russian-Speaking Jewish Families Around the World

Fall 2010

A unique distance-learning program for high school students from Russian-speaking Jewish backgrounds is being launched by Brandeis University's Office of High School Programs. This initiative, part of the university's Brandeis - Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, is an extension of the on-campus program attended by high school students over the summer. The new program, which received generous support from the Genesis Philanthropy Group, will include monthly web seminars for teenagers across the world as well as retreats in New England and Israel for high school students from Russian-speaking Jewish backgrounds.

Last summer, 34 Russian-speaking Jewish teenagers from North America, Israel, and the Former Soviet Union came to the Brandeis campus to participate in two of the university's summer programs for talented teens: BIMA and Genesis. This was the third year that the program actively recruited participants from Russian-speaking families. Throughout the summer they, along with 140 other BIMA and Genesis participants from around the world, spent time learning, engaging with Judaism and its traditions, and building friendships. Now, the teenagers from Russian-speaking Jewish families will have an opportunity to extend this experience through monthly web seminars and weekend retreats.

"Through the long-distance program the students will be able to continue learning, building relationships with other Russian-speaking Jews around the world, and exploring their unique Jewish identities throughout the year," said Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, director of high school programs at Brandeis.

The interactive web seminars will cover topics such as the role of the sacred in our lives, a Jewish response to anger, and one professional Jewish educator's personal journey as a Russian-speaking Jew.  In addition, the web seminars, led by Brandeis educators, will provide a way for the participants to continue to meet, creating a stronger global community. 

There will be two separate weekend retreats, one for students from North America, which will be held December 2010 in New England, and another for students from the Former Soviet Union and Israel, which will be held February 2011 in Israel. Both groups will spend this time exploring the ways that their identities are shaped by their communities.

 "We believe that this deeper, year-round engagement in interactive Jewish learning and socializing will give these talented teenagers the foundation necessary to become leaders in their communities," said Ilia Salita, Executive Director of the Genesis Philanthropy Group in North America.

For more information about this initiative contact Leo Guyshan in the Office of High School Programs: highschool@brandeis.edu. For press inquiries contact Elissa Strauss: elissa.strauss@gmail.com