Sinai program expands to grades 7-12

Sinai program expands, September 2010

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

Now entering its second year, the Sinai Scholars program for Jewish teenagers has expanded both of its projects: Sunday afternoon Judaics courses, and funding for Jewish studies electives at The Miami Valley School along with scholarships for Jewish teenagers to attend the non-sectarian, private prep school.

Patti and Lee Schear fund the non-profit Sinai Scholars program. According to Lee Schear, the Miami Valley component — which started with five Sinai Scholars in ninth grade — has 12 scholars enrolled this year in grades seven, eight, 10 and 11.

Sinai Scholar Beatrice Lovett

The Sunday program — which began with 15 ninth- and 10th-grade students meeting every other week at Sugar Camp — will now meet weekly, with an enrollment of 30 students.

On Sundays, Sinai will also offer 11th- and 12th-graders Israel advocacy courses for college credit, led by former Montgomery County Assistant Prosecutor Angela Frydman. Schear estimates these classes will attract 10 students this year.

Frydman has trained with The David Project, which provides students with knowledge and strategies to support Israel on college campuses.

“The idea of that segment,” Schear says, “is to get them set for what it’s going to be like in college, to reinforce their identities and values. And if you take the course for two years, you’ll get six college credits.”

Sunday courses for ninth and 10th grades are drawn from Chabad’s Jewish Leadership Institute curriculum for teenagers. Leading JLI this year are Rabbis Nochum Mangel and Shmuel Klatzkin of Chabad and Rabbi Eli Shur, ritual director of Beth Jacob Congregation.

“JLI learning modules are interactive, with videos,” Schear says. “It teaches Jewish values and to engage in meaningful discussions about their lives and perspectives.”

One student who was impacted by those Sunday afternoon discussions last year was Tipp City High School sophomore Beatrice Lovett.

A member of Temple Anshe Emeth in Piqua, Lovett says she was the only Jew enrolled at her high school.

“Of course, you get the Jew jokes,” she says of her high school experience. “We have a huge church here and everybody goes to that, and I’ve been told multiple times that I’m going to Hell because I’m Jewish.”

Her mother told her about the Sinai program.

“I was done with Hebrew school and was just helping out (at the temple) and I really wanted to learn more,” Lovett says. “I ended up loving it. I’ve made such good friends through it. And what we learn, I didn’t expect it. It’s the modern issues: Jewish standpoints on tattoos, abortion, gay marriage.”

She’s now a Sinai Scholar, entering 11th grade at Miami Valley.

“It’s going to be nice to have other Jewish kids,” she says. “I’ve always wanted that.”

Sinai High’s 11th- and 12th-grade college prep course begins Sunday, Sept. 19 at 5:15 p.m. Classes for ninth and 10th grades begin Sunday, Sept. 26 at 4:15 p.m., both at Sugar Camp. For enrollment information, e-mail

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