The Ivry Prozdor: Then and Now

The Ivry Prozdor celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2001/5762. Founded in 1951 under the auspices of JTS by Professor Solomon Feffer, Mrs. Sylvia Ettenberg, and other JTS and Camp Ramah visionaries, it was renamed the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor in May 1996, in memory of JTS Board of Directors member E. Billi Ivry's parents. The rededication honored Ms. Ivry's generosity, memorialized her parents' love of Jewish learning, and affirmed JTS's commitment to Jewish high school education. The Ivry Prozdor benefits greatly from its position as a program of The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, one of JTS's five schools.

Today the program serves students in grades seven-twelve from all Jewish religious and educational backgrounds. Prozdor students are typically energetic, enthusiastic, original, and curious and are in search of a Jewish education which sparks their imagination. They attend public and private schools and balance their Prozdor commitment with numerous other involvements. Students and alumni are united by their high motivation, creativity and desire to deepen their Jewish knowledge.

Prozdor alumni attend high-profile colleges and universities. They work in government, the Jewish community, education, business, medicine, the arts, and law. Many are leaders of their Jewish communities and demonstrate through the decisions they make for themselves and their children, an abiding commitment to Jewish education. Graduates often count fellow Prozdor alumni among their closest friends. At least one marriage has been celebrated by a couple who met as students of the program. Prozdor is in the early phases of establishing an alumni association to provide alumni with opportunities to study and reconnect with each other and with the program.

Prozdor faculty are energized by the challenge of teaching dynamic, motivated students. Most Prozdor instructors hold, or are pursuing, master's degrees or doctorates in Jewish Studies and Jewish Education. Some have, or are pursuing, rabbinic ordination or investiture as cantors. Some are professional artists, singers, dot.com'ers or writers. All of them take high school Jewish study programs and their own professional growth seriously. Students see them as accessible role models who exemplify the love of study in an open and creative environment. Teachers devote many hours to planning and professional development.

Opportunities for parents to study at the Prozdor increase every year. A core group of Prozdor parents study Judaica every Sunday morning. All Prozdor students and their families are invited annually to participate in one or more Y'mei Iyun (days of study) at JTS. Prozdor is currently exploring other ways to offer parents opportunities to partake in in-depth and sustained learning.

Prozdor students study at a network of branches and partners throughout the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. Some of these branches have community advisory boards who help assess curriculum, and provide informal program-planning, recruitment, and public relations. Student's parents also serve as a valuable resource by volunteering their time, feedback, and talent.