Ben Franklin Books Offer Educational Shelter

Ben Franklin Academy’s philanthropy club in one month collected 120 children’s picture books from school families to donate to the Genesis Shelter and Our House Shelter, which provide shelter to homeless newborns and their families.

Encouraging the literacy of the next generation fits the Ben Franklin community’s strong belief in the benefits of reading for a child’s development.

JELF Loan Period Opens

Applications for interest-free loans for 2016-17 college, graduate school and vocational programs are available to Jewish students in Georgia and neighboring states from March 1 to April at the Jewish Educational Loan Fund’s website.

The loans are need-based and are meant to be last-dollar financing: JELF provides the final money to bridge the gap between a student’s total financial resources and the cost of school.

An applicant must be enrolled in a full-time program leading to a degree or certificate at an accredited institution in the United States, must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident, and must be able to demonstrate financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

For more information, email application@jelf.org or info@jelf.org, or call 770-396-3080.

JELF also accepts applications in September.

Teens Can Learn Improv

A new program could make the Marcus Jewish Community Center the place for teens who are class clowns, are interested in theater, or just watch comedy on TV and think, “I could do that.”

Weekly improv comedy classes for eighth- to 12th-graders start Wednesday, March 9, and run through April 20 at the Marcus JCC’s main campus at 5342 Tilly Mill Road in Dunwoody. Classes meet from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays.

The April 20 session, the sixth in the series, will be a performance for students’ families.

Skilled improv artists will teach the class. Participants require no experience.

The fee for the six sessions is $75 for JCC members and $95 for nonmembers. For more information, call 678-812-4082, email paige.godfrey@atlantajcc.org or visit www.atlantajcc.org.

Science T-Shirt Contest

The Atlanta Science Festival is offering young artists the chance to get involved with the event, set for March 19 to 26, by entering its annual student T-shirt design contest. This year’s theme is “Meet the Future.”

Georgia sixth- to 12th-graders may submit a design that depicts the future and how science and technology will affect it. The contest’s “future” could address the world as a whole or the student artist’s personal future.

Designs must use the template available at www.atlantasciencefestival.org/tshirtcontest and must be emailed to tshirt@atlantasciencefestival.org so that they are received by 11 p.m. Tuesday, March 1.

The winner will receive two tickets to “Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science” at the Fox Theatre on April 9, an onstage award during the festival’s Exploration Expo on March 26, and 10 T-shirts for family and friends.

A panel of festival staffers, board members, sponsors and partners will judge the designs on artistry, creativity, originality, and the ability to communicate a clear and positive message about the future and how science and technology will affect it.

“Last year’s contest was extremely successful and a true testament to the imagination, talent and curiosity of the next generation,” said Meisa Salaita, executive co-director of the festival. “This year’s theme, ‘Meet the Future,’ is the perfect way to showcase the power of our local youth and encourage them to dream big and have fun while doing it.”

March of the Living Alters Attitudes

A study by March of the Living International has found that the organization’s trips to Poland and Israel lead half of the participants to consider making aliyah in the future.

The recently released study was conducted by sociologist William Helmreich of the City University of New York Graduate Center and the Colin Powell School at City College. “What’s most remarkable about the march is how deeply it impacts participants over a period of many years,” he said in an announcement about the study. “These include life choices like selecting a mate, moving to Israel, and career choices. In addition, it greatly impacts not only on Jewish identity, but also on compassion toward other people.”

More than 220,000 students have taken March of the Living trips since the program was founded in 1988. The Holocaust education trips annually take 10,000 to 20,000 students from any religion to Poland and Israel, but the report focused only on the Jewish participants.

Most of those surveyed said they signed up to better understand their Jewish culture.

“We are very pleased with the results of this study,” said Shmuel Rosenman, the chairman of the March of the Living. “To think that the march is such a successful program in terms of ensuring and enhancing Jewish identity and in making people realize the importance of engaging as a Jew within their communities and caring for those outside of them truly illustrates the goals that we had when initially forming the first march so many years ago.”

Among the findings:

  • Fifty-four percent said the march made them more tolerant toward other groups. Among those who participated 20 years ago, that number rose to 66 percent.
  • Eighty-six percent said it’s important to marry someone who is Jewish, and 91 percent said that raising their children with some sort of Jewish education is important. Some 65 percent said that raising their children in a Jewish neighborhood is important.
  • According to 90 percent of those surveyed, the march instilled the importance of reacting to confrontations with anti-Semitism, and 95 percent said the march strengthened their sense of Jewish Identity.