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Stern to Stress the Spirit
With such matters very much in mind, new faces are set to roam the halls of Stern Hebrew High School when classes begin on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Two new faculty members will also arrive, charged in part with dealing directly with such stresses.
In addition to teaching courses in Judaic studies, new hires Rabbi Mordechai Rabinowitz and Shayna Goldberg will act as mashgichim ruchani'im, or "spiritually-oriented counselors," for students in the six-year-old school.
"The counselors' purpose is to guide kids who want to get a better understanding of their role as Jews vis-à-vis the world, vis-à-vis each other and vis-à-vis their own inner experiences as human beings," said the head of school, Rabbi Moshe Simkovich.
The teachers - both of whom are moving here from Israel - will work with this year's expected student body of 90 teens by dropping in on groups and inviting kids over to their homes.
The hope is to offer different types of nonclassroom environments where students will feel comfortable talking about themselves and, perhaps, their teenage problems.
"[It's] a tremendous opportunity for me to translate the values of a vibrant, caring Judaism into a viable message and life path for high school students," Rabinowitz wrote in an e-mail from Israel, noting that such problematic teenage issues as eating disorders and substance abuse can emerge due to peer pressure, family troubles or as coping mechanisms for dealing with today's cultural influences.
"It is through real direction," he added, "together with caring, that teenagers [can] emerge as mature adults."