Sophie Cohen ’21, Temple Sinai, NY

My name is Sophie Cohen, Class of ’21, and because of the Summer Experience Fund I had the opportunity to intern this summer for Temple Sinai on North Broadway. For the past year, I have taught 4th grade religious studies and Hebrew school on Wednesdays and Sundays at Temple Sinai. I really enjoyed teaching 4th grade, and my experience at the temple made me curious about how curriculums are designed and implemented ¬–– so when I learned that the temple was designing a new Hebrew school curriculum I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. As a Media Studies minor, I was particularly interested in how teaching materials can be thoughtfully designed to facilitate language learning. I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn about this in a hands-on way, creating games, worksheets, “source sheets,” and other materials as part of an internship with Temple Sinai.

During this internship, it was my responsibility to communicate with both the Rabbis, the Temple’s Education Director, and Hebrew school teachers involved with the new curriculum design about what they envisioned and how I could create the best materials for them. Everyone had different perspectives and priorities, and it was challenging and exciting to be responsible for reconciling them to create materials that each teacher felt good about using. I really enjoyed having so much responsibility in my internship. There was a great balance between receiving helpful direction and feedback, and having the freedom to work independently and creatively to bring multiple peoples’ ideas together.

While working on materials, there were several factors I needed to keep in mind. For example, because Hebrew is read from right to left and this is unintuitive for native English speakers, I did my best to design every page so that the eye is drawn from right to left. I enjoyed bringing in what I learned in previous Media Studies coursework to accomplish this task. Classes like Color and Intro to GIS gave me practice thinking through questions around effective design. It was also interesting to read research on child development and designing teaching materials, which helped me strategize about how to create my own age-appropriate, clear and effective content.

I found this internship by seeing a need in an organization I worked with, and suggesting a way that I could help fill it. So for students interested in finding their own internships, I think that Handshake and other campus resources are great places to look, but also don’t be afraid to try and make opportunities for yourself. There was no pre-existing curriculum design internship at Temple Sinai, but Ienjoyed working for them in the past. When they started this new curriculum design project I wanted to stay involved, and so I offered to help in any way I could. My suggestion is to be confident, and if you don’t already see a way to get involved with a project you care about, suggest one!

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