New private school seeks to connect Florida students with their Jewish roots
BY LISA BUIE
Rabbi Isaac Melnick thinks learning should be fun. As a young teacher in a Hebrew dual-language charter school in South Florida, he ran a lively after-school program that taught Torah to students who wanted to receive Judaic instruction. He called the program Torah 4 Everyone. He also ran Camp Cooluna, a summer camp that offered water slides, crafts and costumes alongside instruction in Jewish scriptures.
When the after-school program was forced to go all virtual during the pandemic, Melnick didn’t miss a beat. He started Jewish American Zoom, which offered Judaic teaching in an atmosphere of entertainment, wacky competitions and prizes that included Amazon gift cards and massive Hershey’s Kisses.
The program, which Melnick called JAZ, was such a hit that some kids lamented it only operated Monday through Thursday.
Now, with more than a decade of experience launching and managing extra-curricular programs, Melnick wants to open a full-fledged Jewish day school. Shorashim Academy is slated to open for the 2023-24 school year in the Hallandale, Florida area.
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