YU Initiates QUEST Program to Train College Students in Informal Jewish Education

Feb 7, 2005 — On February 2, Yeshiva University (YU) launched Quality Education Skills Training (QUEST), a six-week lecture series that prepares YU undergraduate and graduate students to develop and implement programming at local yeshiva high schools that addresses issues of concern to today’s Jewish teens. The winter 2005 agenda will focus on cigarette smoking, drugs and alcohol, cheating, and gambling. The opening lecture featured writer and TV producer Michael Borkow, who delivered the keynote address.

Borkow, who spoke about his journey to a Torah-observant lifestyle and his own informal Jewish education in the “show biz” world of Hollywood, explained how he overcame obstacles including drugs, alcohol and working on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) while writing for hit shows such as “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Friends,” and “The Bernie Mac Show.”

“Mr. Borkow’s experience is easily translatable to a high school environment where, like Hollywood, societal pressures abound,” said Josh Joseph of the February 2 lecture. He is director of education projects for the Max Stern Division of Communal Services, YU’s outreach department through its affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. “The students learned that through informal Jewish education programs they can empower teens to resist pressures in high school and to achieve impressive things, just as Mr. Borkow did in Hollywood.”

Referring to Judaism as “the longest-running book club where every week for thousands of years people get together to discuss the same book,” Borkow explained to QUEST participants how he started his own “book club,” a weekly Shabbat learning group for the purpose of delving into the Torah text and inspiring other Jews to learn. The group began with 3 regular attendees and now attracts some 15 people. The members also serve as a social network for each other, frequently eating Shabbat lunch together.

The QUEST Winter 2005 Series will continue with six upcoming lectures at YU’s Yeshiva College (YC), the university’s college of arts and sciences for men in Washington Heights, and at Stern College for Women, the YC counterpart in midtown Manhattan. For more information, go to www.yu.edu/quest on the web or email quest@yu.edu.

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