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Jewish Scholastic Press Association

Jewish Scholastic Press Association

JDS students and faculty visit Bishop McNamara high school in continued partnership

Aileen Goldstein
JDS students sit with students from Bishop Mcnamara High School to engage in a meaningful conversation

CESJDS’ partnership with Bishop McNamara High School continued this past week, with 19 students and seven faculty members visiting their campus on Nov. 2. Last year, a group of students and faculty visited Bishop McNamara for the first time in order to build a bridge between both distinct schools and foster cultural and religious understanding by connecting the two communities.

“The goal of the day was really to offer students in both schools the opportunity to get to know one another, and to learn more about each other’s experiences as high school students who are in schools of faith,” High School Assistant Principal Aileen Goldstein said.

Each visit has a different key focus other than establishing a connection between both communities; last year’s visit being humanities, and this year’s visit focused on Fine Arts and STEM.

Once students and faculty arrived at the school, they were greeted by the vibrant community and were immediately able to start forming new connections amongst the Bishop McNamara students and faculty. They spent the day touring classrooms as well as their brand-new STEM innovation center which included a cybersecurity program, vast computer systems and digital printmaking. They were also able to explore different Fine Arts classes and learn about African dance and music, as well as Bishop McNamara’s instrumental band program.

“They have a whole new STEM and innovation center that they literally just opened in February, it’s pretty impressive and they got to show off all their cool new classrooms, labs and their STEM innovation centers,” Upper School STEM Director and Middle School Science Chair Alexandra Brown said.

Students were also given the opportunity to share their own Jewish culture and identity through meaningful discussions with the students at Bishop McNamara. Junior Georgia Lindenauer, along with Juniors Zev Mendelson and Aliza Lesser gave a presentation to a senior theology class on five things they wished the students at Bishop McNamara knew about Judaism.

Lindenauer found this part of the day especially meaningful, as the presentation transformed into an engaging Q&A where both JDS and Bishop McNamara students were able to learn a lot from one another.

“I think it’s really important to bridge gaps between two different religions and to find common threads and just debunk some sort of walls that we’ve put up subconsciously and become closer,” Lindenauer said.

After a day filled with touring, learning and establishing new friendships, JDS students and faculty regrouped to reflect on their experience, what they learned and observed, and what would be ideal next steps in continuing the partnership.

JDS is planning on hosting Bishop McNamara in the spring, and JDS and Bishop McNamara faculty are working on planning social and community service gatherings throughout the winter to provide more students with the opportunity to meet and connect.

“There’s a lot of things that are beneficial about the relationship [between both schools]…” Goldstein said, “We are in a Jewish bubble here and it is important for us not only to learn about other religions as we do in World History class or Comparative Religion or in other discussions that we have, but really to understand another faith community helps us better understand the society that we are living in.”

This story originally appeared in The Lion’s Tale on Nov. 7, 2023.

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