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Social Action Committees do important work, but it is rare that synagogue teens know much about it. Beth Israel’s Never Again (BINA) Committee chose to take our message to those who matter most to us: our own community. As a committee, BINA taught a semester-long high school class entitled “You and Your Synagogue Can Change the World.” Each person in the committee taught at least one class. This was a very powerful model because BINA members each had different paths that led us to activism. The students were therefore able to see the variety of people who comprise a synagogue committee and how such a committee works together.


Together, the BINA Committee created a curriculum which began with learning about how and why people take action. We studied the case of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was murdered while a whole apartment building heard her cries but did nothing. Throughout the semester we studied effective ways to take action and how Jewish communities have historically fought for social justice. Since the teachers were members of an active committee, we were able to involve students in our own actions. During Pesach, the students helped the committee design an insert about Darfur which families were encouraged to use at their Seder tables. Students also set up action centers at Camp Darfur, an interactive mobile museum about 5 genocides. During Camp Darfur, students led more than 60 of their peers in calling 1-800-GENOCIDE. We learned the next day that we filled Secretary Clinton’s voicemail box to capacity! At the end of the semester, the students created an action of their own. They chose to design t-shirts and sell them to raise money for Darfur. A committee-led class was inspirational to the students as well as the teachers. The BINA Committee was awed by the students’ passion and how thoughtfully they created action items. One student created a flyer about Darfur and posted it around her secular school. Another student found out how to join the Darfur action group at her secular school. By the end of the class, students knew how to solicit donations from local businesses, how to write a letter to politicians and how to work within a Jewish context to create change. 


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