by Ben Sacks
During the TAP training programs we learned a lot about making learning more accessible for everyone in the classroom, and a large part of that was creating a more accepting and comfortable learning environment, a place where every student can feel free to be themselves and learn how they want to, even if we had to encourage them occasionally. It was the greatest feeling seeing the whole class laugh together and share in a happy experience. I know that the jewish education is important, but your Hebrew school class is really about friendship and growing up together.
As I grew closer to the child I worked with, I learned what made him upset and how to help him come back to class ready to learn. He would often misbehave slightly and when he was given a slight punishment by the teacher he would become very quiet and try to isolate himself from the rest of the class. I learned that the best way to help him calm down would be to remind him that he isn’t alone, and then after a few minutes he would be ready for class again. It was amazing seeing him participate in class again, answering questions and having fun.
I’m proud to be a TAP teen because it means I’ve made my jewish community more accessible and I’ve passed on the gift of meaningful Hebrew school experience to younger kids. I know that these kids will eventually become bar or bat mitzvah and they will begin doing service for the community as well. I hope that my involvement with the TAP program will inspire the class I worked with to become future volunteers and TAP teens, or at least to treat others with a greater sense of empathy and kindness.
Ben Sacks is a teen assistant at Tifereth Israel.