Timeless Jewish Learning for the 21st Century
Teach children according to their way, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. —Proverbs 22:6
The Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor teen learning program is an inspiring, innovative center for Judaic and Hebrew studies for teens across the New York metropolitan area.
Prozdor meets Sundays at JTS, bringing together a diverse group of teens to access classical Jewish texts, improve their Hebrew, and find contemporary meaning in the concepts and values of Jewish tradition. Guided by dedicated faculty, students are encouraged to ask the questions that matter to them and develop answers that speak authentically to them as young Jews in the 21st century.
Who It’s For
Prozdor students are 8th to 12th graders from across the greater New York area, including all five boroughs, Westchester, Long Island, Northern and Central New Jersey, and Connecticut. Students of all Jewish backgrounds are welcome.
What Students Learn
At Prozdor, we take teens seriously. It is our highest responsibility to unlock their appetite for Jewish learning. For thousands of years, Jewish people have been in conversation about big, important ideas. Teens can fall in love with that conversation if they are invited to participate at their own level. With care and respect for each student, we seek to build a culture of intellectual vitality and love for Judaism.
ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM
Beit midrash: Beit midrash literally means “house of study,” but it also signifies a philosophy of learning: students working together, with direct access to texts, in a space of intimacy, trust, and openness. At Prozdor, the beit midrash is the heart of the program—a space filled with the sounds of small groups of students engaged in animated, self-motivated Torah learning, under the guidance of caring and inspiring teachers. Drawing on students’ interests and passions, teachers develop study units that allow students to encounter a variety of topics and methods. Instead of homework or tests, students share their knowledge with each other, developing both as students and as teachers.
Study units fall into four categories, each involving distinct methods for approaching ideas, texts, and conversations:
- In-Depth Hebrew Bible Study (e.g., feminism in Ruth and Esther; moral philosophy in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes)
- Historical Perspectives (e.g., who wrote the Bible; ancient Judaism)
- Power and Justice in Jewish Law (e.g., manslaughter; personal injury)
- Themes in Jewish Thought (e.g., chosenness; science and spirituality)
Hebrew: We offer classes for all levels and backgrounds in spoken Modern Hebrew, taught by native Israeli teachers and other experienced educators.
Community time: Each day of Prozdor begins with half an hour of candid conversation that brings all students and faculty together, building the culture of the school. Topics might include current events, Jewish identity, experiences of anti-semitism, how to love your neighbor, and other matters relevant to our whole community.
Special programs: Our calendar is punctuated with events like field trips, guest speakers, and JTS’s annual Teen Summit.
Our schedule varies from week to week and throughout the year according to the shape of our students’ learning projects. This is the basic structure:
9:30 a.m.–10 a.m.: Community Time
10 a.m.–11:30 a.m.: Beit Midrash
11:30 a.m.–12 p.m.: Bagel Break
12 p.m.–1:30 p.m.: Hebrew
- Jewish Commitment: Prozdor prepares Jewish teens to commit to leading Jewish lives in college and beyond. Prozdor graduates have gone on to join synagogues and minyanim, take leadership roles at Hillels and other Jewish organizations, and engage in ongoing Jewish learning. Adolescent psychology tells us that teens create models for their adult lives based on interactions with role models and peers. This is the most important time to give your child the gift of a stimulating Jewish education.
- Hebrew Language: At Prozdor, students maintain the Hebrew knowledge that they bring with them into the program and even expand on it, remaining comfortable and at home in the language of the Jewish people. With 90 minutes per week of Modern Hebrew instruction by skilled native Israeli teachers, our students come to see Hebrew language as an essential piece of their emerging Jewish identity.
- College Admissions: Our students are on the path to great colleges. Top-tier schools love to see the passion for academics and long-term dedication to community that a Prozdor diploma demonstrates. We offer transcripts and recommendations. Recent Prozdor graduates have gone on to attend Brown, Tufts, University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Swarthmore, Grinnell, and other excellent colleges and universities.
- Social Life: At Prozdor, students expand their social circles and connect with other engaged Jewish teens, building relationships that can last a lifetime.
What Students Are Saying
I started coming to Prozdor because my parents made me—now I come because I want to!
Our discussions about the election and how it relates to Judaism gave a new lens to something I was hearing a lot about on the news and from adults and peers, and it’s something that will continue to affect my life for years to come.
I have learned how to analyze Talmudic arguments and see how everything is layered on top of each other. I have also learned how to do a close reading of the Tanakh.
The unit on manslaughter made me think more about the development of our current court systems. The unit on idolatry challenged me to think about what it really means to be Jewish.
What Parents Are Saying
I’ve been extremely impressed by both the teachers and the students at Prozdor. The beit midrash classes are a model of what high-school level Jewish education can and should be: teachers helping students to engage seriously with Jewish texts in an atmosphere that encourages inquiry and the exchange of ideas.—Lisa H.
My son Spencer has really been enjoying his Prozdor experience. It provides him with a great opportunity to continue to learn about and further explore his Jewish heritage and identity in a very open and welcoming environment. He is gaining a better understanding and improving his knowledge of various Judaic texts and the Hebrew language, and is being exposed to interesting new perspectives from his teachers and peers at Prozdor.—Gary N.
- Prozdor tuition is $2,700 per student, per academic year.
- No prospective student is turned away for inability to pay. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about applying for financial aid.