Prejudice often results from a lack of knowledge and familiarity. In response, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of St. Louis created the Student to Student program in 1992 to reduce stereotypes and prejudice. Jewish students travel to schools lacking a strong Jewish presence and share their experiences with Judaism with their peers. The program has now expanded to Des Moines as part of a national pilot program, starting in 2017.
“It is through programs such as this that our communities learn to understand each other better so that we… can live in mutual respect and peace.”
– Student to Student Participating Teacher
What is Student to Student?
Presentations are given by a group of three or four students representing the Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform branches of Judaism. Since this is a presentation by peers, it can resonate with the students on a deeper level. The style of presentation is more like that of an informal discussion. Classrooms find that the use of props and openness to questions are some of the most engaging elements of the presentation. The students also bring in personal stories which show both the reality and diversity of Jewish practice.
Presenters discuss a range of topics, including the following:
- A typical day in the presenters’ lives
- The Jewish calendar and holidays
- The Sabbath
- The Jewish life cycle
- Jewish dietary practices
- The Hebrew language
- The Holocaust
- Israel history and culture
Through 120 presentations to 29 different groups, Student to Student has reached 4,000 students in schools across the country that lack a Jewish presence. These young people can now put a “human face” to Judaism—the best antidote to bigotry and intolerance.
How to Participate
For more information or to schedule a presentation, contact Kyle Grossmann, Des Moines Student to Student Coordinator, at 515-987-0899 ext. 235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.