SIG Focus: Jewish Schools and Jewish Students

From the January 28, 2016 NACAC Bulletin:

Co-Leaders of the Jewish Schools and Jewish Students Special Interest Group
Gary Berger, Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (NJ)
Jacqueline Rockman, Donna Klein Jewish Academy High School (FL)
Bruce Scher, Rochelle Zell Jewish High School (IL)

​NACAC Special Interest Groups (SIGs) nurture the growing diversity in our association by providing “micro” communities where members can network and add value to their membership experience. These smaller subsets of members are formed for the purpose of knowledge sharing and discussion among members with similar interests whether they are specific subjects, issues or type of institution, or students they serve.

The mission of the Jewish Schools and Jewish Students SIG is to form a network of members who are concerned about the issues of Jewish students as they relate to the college preparation and application and admission processes, as well as their experiences on college campuses.  In addition to our annual meeting held at the NACAC National Conference, we host numerous regional meetings throughout the United States each year. The purpose of these gatherings includes information sharing, networking, and advocacy. The New York/New Jersey region is our most active area with a meeting taking place almost monthly throughout the school year, with more than 30-40 members attending each meeting.

At these meetings, we share what we have learned recently through campus meetings, counselor fly-ins specific to our SIG, and through our own research. Many times we have a presentation from a college admission officer who will present information on what his or her particular college campus can offer a Jewish student. Through these presentations, our guidance counselors from around the country have learned about what these schools can offer to the students we represent.

It is important to understand that due to varying levels of Jewish observance and lifestyles, not every campus will work for every student. For example, many students may choose to keep kosher while away at school. This means they will need to find a school that provides a kosher meal plan or kosher options. We have learned more and more schools are choosing to invest in kosher dining in an effort to attract our students.

Our SIG meetings allow us to gain a more accurate understanding of where our students of varying needs have been successful in the past, as well as discuss new options for the future. For example, one of the hot topics of today is how the anti-Israel student organizations on campus affect the morale of the Jewish students who are sometimes targeted by these radical groups.

The Jewish Schools and Jewish Students SIG works hard to be in contact all year long through meetings, online discussions, counselor fly-ins specific to our needs, and through our newsletter. Through these methods, we keep abreast of hot topics as they come up and are able to make day-to-day decisions to better serve the students we represent.

We would like to encourage any NACAC members who work closely with students of the Jewish faith to join us at our meeting during the next national conference, or to sign up for our NACAC Jewish SIG newsletter, which is published multiple times throughout the school year.