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Public School Initiative


 

Public School Initiative

 
In September 2009, the JCM launched its Public School Initiative, a project dedicated to providing free museum admission to public school students with the goal to help them develop respect and understanding for other cultures and traditions. Funded in part by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the PSI is also partnering with other reputable corporations who have taken a great interest in the program that the JCM offers public school students.

Our newest program, “Cultural Connections”, geared specifically for Public School students, introduces them to a colorful array of customs and traditions in the Jewish culture.

Experienced museum educators guide students as they step back in time to explore the Jewish holiday cycle in a quaint, cobblestoned village. Students and teachers are delighted and impressed with the interactive exhibits, hands-on participation and newfound knowledge. Children unlock the door to invite guests into a Sukkah-hut, press olive oil for the Hanukkah menorah and crawl through the world’s largest challah-bread. A child was overheard exclaiming during his visit, “My Grandma makes Hallah bread!”

This unique program opens a window into Jewish culture for non-Jewish children from public schools. As students examine the roots and basis of many Jewish customs, they recognize manners of conduct that stand at the root of practices found in other cultures around the world. Through this program, the JCM promotes an environment of respect, tolerance and awareness of cultural, religious and ethnic differences. Karl Wright of Legal Lives praised the program saying, “The trips have been a wonderful tool to bridge the gap between African American and Jewish American students. Everyone has a different history but we still are all the same.”

We have received enthusiastic feedback from students and teachers alike. Debbie Bertman, a teacher at a local school wrote, “Just know that my students enjoyed themselves to the fullest. In fact, they are still talking about our visit. Thank you so much for this one time invitation but a life-long learning experience. You cannot imagine the wealth of knowledge the students gained from just this one visit to the museum. They were so intrigued about the Jewish culture that some of them have even gone on to do independent research studies to learn more about it.”

The Public School Initiative is yet another way that The Jewish Children’s Museum continues to excel in its mission of teaching tolerance, social responsibility and universal values to today’s children.