Stephen S. Wise Temple Initiates First West Coast
Jewish Freedom School
Jewish Freedom School
On June 25, Stephen S. Wise Temple will open the first Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School sponsored by a Jewish organization on the West Coast, and only the second nationally. Fifty children from Stanley Mosk Elementary School in Winnetka will attend a six-week program of literacy training, mentorship, and enrichment activities on the Stephen S. Wise campus. All costs to fund have been contributed or raised by Stephen S. Wise Temple from its members as well as from family foundations and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. The program will be run and staffed by Stephen S. Wise Temple adult and youth members, other individuals from the Los Angeles community, and Temple members will volunteer their time for various enrichment programs every day. The teachers will be committed college students with a passion for social justice and a love of children. Students in the program will enjoy resources that the Stephen S. Wise Temple campus offers, including beautiful classrooms, open playgrounds, and a pool. In addition, students will take several field trips to cultural sites around the Los Angeles area, including the Skirball Cultural Center and the Getty Center.
Temple member volunteer and Project Director, Andrea Sonnenberg and professional Site Coordinator, Jennifer Smith recently traveled to Clinton, Tennessee for the Children’s Defense Fund national training. There, along with 250 Freedom School staff from across the country, they acquired essential skills for Freedom School management. As ambassadors for the Jewish community to the overwhelmingly African American Freedom School staff, they were enthusiastically embraced by participants and were able to share Jewish values and teachings with them. Quoting one of the participant’s comments about how much they respected Jews, Sonnenberg recounts, “they [Jews] care, because they are dedicated to education, and because they are motivated by their values.” For Sonnenberg, she notes that this experience “was one of the most transformative moments in my life.”