David Krieger and Susan Musinsky are the parents of Rebecca and Eli Krieger. Rebecca, a senior at Watertown High School and a Bronfman Fellow, has been involved with Prozdor for five years and is currently a participant in the 12th grade Moreshet program. Her brother, Eli, is in 9th grade at Watertown High School and entering his second year at Prozdor. David, a doctor, and Susan, the head of a non-profit for social entrepreneurs, are very connected in the Jewish community and are deeply involved with their kids’ journey through Prozdor; David is even teaching a class at Prozdor this semester entitled “A Jewish Perspective on Scientific Ethics.” We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the whole family to discuss their family’s Jewish values and the highlights of their engagement with Prozdor.
[To David and Susan]
Tell me generally about the Jewish values you wanted to impart on your family:
Susan: David and I grew up with different Jewish backgrounds. We made conscious decisions to both live an active Jewish life, sending our children to Kesher Newton (an alternative Hebrew school after school program), and to make sure to have Friday night dinners and all holidays so that there was Judaism interwoven in our household. But we also made a decision to stay in a community where there are not a lot of Jews. Our kids were raised in Watertown public schools, where there are very few Jews. So the Jewish community that we have worked to create for them in our synogogue, Beth El in Sudbury, and in their Hebrew schools have been places for them and for us to move those values forward.
David: We sought out, early on, places where our children could engage with interesting and dynamic communities. By choosing to be involved with places like Beth El, Kesher, Yavneh, and Prozdor, we made it easier for them to get involved in those communities early on. We made a decision that whatever the kids wanted to do to get involved with their camp and Kesher and Prozdor friends, we would make sure that they could get to those events and not make a big deal out of them.
How did you originally chose to come to Prozdor? How you first hear about it?
David: We went to Kesher Newton because we were looking for a more involved and spirited Jewish educational community and experience for the kids. But I think there was a point for both of them when they sort of graduated out of what they were getting in Kesher. At that point, Prozdor was just the natural transition, especially since a lot of their friends through camp and other community connections were already enrolled here.
Susan: My answer to that is 500 Jewish kids in one place, on a Sunday morning, sign them up! Whatever happens in the building, it works for me.
What has been valuable about being a part of Prozdor?
Rebecca: For me, Prozdor has given me a Jewish community that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Prozdor has given me a lot of opportunities and experiences, particularly when it comes to travel. I went to Israel in 9th grade on the Pirke Dorot trip. I’ve been to New York twice, once in 8th grade and once in 10th grade with Israelis from the Reali School who I was hosting. I also got involved in AIPAC with Prozdor, and I’m going to the Policy Conference in March for the first time. Also, without Prozdor I would never have heard about the Bronfman Fellowship, and thanks to the support and recommendation of Prozdor, I was lucky enough to be a part of that program last summer.
Eli: I have a lot of different groups of friends here, including many of my camp friends. I’ve also met a lot of cool people, but I’m most excited about the upcomingIsraeltrip… we leave next week!
Susan: It’s been amazing. It’s amazing when I look back on five years and see both the connections Rebecca has with a large group of people and the opportunities that she’s had to grow and develop as a person. It’s the totality of what it means to enter and be in something and really be a part of the community and watch that experience help her shape her own Jewish identity.
David, what has it been like to teach at Prozdor?
David: The main experience that I’ve had is that the students in the class are absolutely fantastic. They are terrific, they are engaged, they are interested in learning and in saying their peace and hearing one another’s opinions, and they are just great kids all around. I am used to teaching in situations where I have really great students, and I didn’t know what to expect when I was coming to Prozdor… and they’ve been wonderful.
Becca, what has been the most transformative experience you’ve had with Prozdor?
Becca: One powerful experience has been volunteering for the Gateways Special Education Program. Gateways serves students with developmental disabilities aged 8 through 20, and it’s run almost entirely by teen volunteers. I volunteered there for two years, during which time I was paired with a student. Every Sunday I worked with him- I started off two years ago teaching him the Hebrew alphabet and then I went to his Bar Mitzvah, where he read Torah and said all the blessings. That was a really amazing thing to see. It’s also impressive that most of Gateways volunteers are from Prozdor, and the added benefit is that I got Prozdor credit for volunteering there.
What is the most revealing family story about Prozdor?
Susan: There was a point when Becca was missing a lot of Tuesday night Prozdor because of field hockey, and there was lots of push and pull about whether or not she should continue. I remember Rebecca putting up a fight with us, saying “I really really care about being at Prozdor.”
David: I wasn’t hearing much about Prozdor from Becca and Eli -the kids being who they are- they just weren’t talking much about their experiences. So when I thought that she wouldn’t continue on Tuesday nights, I said look, there doesn’t seem to be anything useful coming out of this let’s just cut it out. And she just lost it.
Rebecca: I don’t think that I “lost it”…
David: You were pretty angry! And it was really a powerful moment for me to see that it meant so much to her, because I hadn’t heard that before. And that moment when it was going to be taken away from her was when she really made it clear how important it was to her.
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