By Larry Katz

Veterans Day events were more than just opportunities for barbeques and family get-togethers for Congregation Shaarey Zedek (CSZ) Religious School students. A new program started this year to ensure students remember and honor Jewish veterans.

This joint venture between the CSZ Religious School and the Jewish War Veterans Department of Michigan took place on Sunday, November 18, 2019. The goal of the program is to introduce meaningful interpersonal experiences into the school’s curriculum, allowing students to learn the lessons of history proactively, educating and inspiring students about the sacrifices necessary to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy, and building intergenerational connections within the synagogue.

Thirty-seven students attended the three sessions at the CSZ Berman Center for Jewish Education.
In the first session, the veterans and students gathered together in the library. Veterans introduced themselves and shared stories about their military experience. Several brought photographs and other visual materials to show the students.

The second phase of the program consisted of three breakout sessions. Students were matched with veterans in a more personal setting, enabling one-on-one discussions. The veterans tailored each session to the ages of the students.

The third and final phase of this program was a return to the library with the veterans addressing any follow-up questions based on what the students had learned from the veterans and what the veterans had learned from the students.

Future local projects with CSZ and JWV will feature structured dialogue with current and former military service members and their families, field trips to military sites, cemeteries, museums, memorials. and other sites dedicated to the victims of war and genocide, and other proactive events including face-to-face dialogues with people who have devoted their lives to public service as well as those who benefitted from their sacrifice and courage.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019