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After 41 years, Tucson Hebrew High undergoes evolution

Students in last year’s senior class at Tucson Hebrew High work together on an assignment. (Debe Campbell/AJP)

Tucson High School for Jewish Studies, better known at Tucson Hebrew High, will undergo an evolution as it launches its 41st year in August. Still in development, the Jewish teen network will unfold as the year progresses, says Rabbi Ruven Barkan, THH director.

“The success of this past year is that all the partners are on board with making changes in the framework. How we do it and how we attract and educate our teens in a broader, Jewish way are the goals,” he says.

The Hebrew for Credit program will continue under the network, Barkan says. It will include both a language study component and twinning program with students in Israel and the local shinshinim (Israeli teen emissaries). Classes will be held on Tuesdays from 5 to 9 pm. Oren Riback will lead the senior class.

Most Tucson high schools accept the Hebrew for Credit program for one high school language credit per year completed. Where it is not accepted for foreign language credit, it may be accepted as an elective, giving students the flexibility to take other classes within the school, Barkan says.

THH is a valuable addition to a college resume, Barkan adds. Colleges seek consistency in extracurricular activities, especially academic ones. THH students engage in critical thinking and text analysis, two important elements for the college applicant. THH faculty also are excellent references for college and jobs.

Partners in the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Jewish Coalition for Education, which supports THH,  include the Tucson Jewish Community Center, Tucson Hebrew Academy, the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, Temple Emanu-El, and congregations Anshei Israel, Bet Shalom, Chaverim, M’kor Hayim, and Or Chadash.

THH created a new board of directors last year, including Rabbis Stephanie Aaron, Avi Alpert, Batsheva Appel, Robert Eisen, Billy Lewkowicz, and Thomas Louchheim, along with Oshrat Barel, Michelle Blumenberg, Jesse Davis, Laurence Kutler, Nancy Ozeri, Bryan Pisetsky, Oren Riback, Todd Rockoff, and Jill Rosenfeld. Louchheim and Ozeri co-chair the board.

The Friends of Hebrew High and the Dr. Stephen Dickstein Scholarship Fund continue to provide student scholarships.

The THH kickoff event will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Information, updates, and registration will be available at or by calling
Susanne Amador at 647-8448.