Rivka Press Schwartz
his session was ramed by a series o questions, includingone about how well prepared our students are to unction in thebroader non-Jewish world. My students have no difculty whatsoeverunctioning in the broader non-Jewish world. he modern Americancultural and social milieu is one they inhabit ully and with perectcomort. Whenever ask my students whether they eel that they aremore undamentally like a non-Jewish Horace Mann student a ewblocks away or a hasidic teenager in Williamsburg, they invariably tellme that they are much more like a non-Jewish prep school studentwhose concerns and pressing issues are most similar to their own thanthey are to their ellow Orthodox Jew. (hat raises a dierent issue,perhaps the topic or another Forum, but it indicates that my studentshave no difculty identiying and eeling comortable with the non-Jewish world.)As long, that is, as that non-Jewish world is like them: largely white, upper middle class (at least), ocused on college admissions andacceptances as the greatest challenges o teenage lie. he question isnot, then, whether our Modern Orthodox high school students areprepared to engage with the non-Jewish world. t is whether they areprepared to engage without condescension (or at best, a sense o thewhite man’s burden) with those who come rom culturally and, moreimportantly, socio-economically dissimilar backgrounds.o the extent that most o our students encounter the reality o poverty, it is in the ramework o
At SAR HighSchool, students can, through the advisory
program, spend aew hours at a ood pantry or a soup kitchen in New ork City. Whilethis may help raise their awareness o the problem o hunger even inthis wealthy city in this wealthiest country in the world, it exacerbates,rather than eliminates, their sense o distance rom the people they arehelping. We do not, ater all, see ourselves in the patrons o the JCCo Washington Heights and nwood’s ood pantry. Some o my highschool students participate in
activities that have them travelingto a ar corner o the globe to do charitable work among disadvantagedpopulations. n this mode, too—as the white Westerners helping thepoor people o color—they are inhabiting a role that does not pushthem to discomfting examinations o privilege, class, race, and justice.