Private: Summer in the City
Summer in the City FAQs
We would like to introduce you to the exciting USY Summer in the City program! You have the opportunity to experience the best that New York has to offer, and this question and answer sheet will help answer some questions that may be on your mind.
We want you to know as much as possible about the program, and hope that you will experience it for yourself, when you come spend a Summer in the City with us.
Why should I choose this program?
Summer in the City is the only program that offers you the combination of an unparalleled academic, cultural, and Jewish experience. Academically, you will be able to select from a number of thought-provoking classes at Barnard College, one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the country, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, the academic center of Conservative Judaism. Culturally, you will experience the best of New York City, learning its rich history and rich present through walking tours, sightseeing (Manhattan is home to many of the greatest museums in the entire world), and various forms of entertainment. Jewishly, you will be sharing your experiences with a select group of USYers, and will have the opportunity to learn at least as much outside the classroom as inside, as you are given the tools to grow as a person and as a Jew.
What kind of courses will be offered?
At Barnard College, the subjects you can choose from include poetry, music, theater, film, women’s studies, ethics, law, the Holocaust, environmental studies, and more. At the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), you will be offered a choice of studying biblical/rabbinical texts, or examining Jewish thought from various philosophical perspectives.
Will I have lots of homework each day?
The nature of the workload varies widely, depending on the nature of the course (writing intensive, reading intensive, etc). In a typical college course, students are expected to spend two hours preparing for class for each hour they spend in the classroom. Given the fact that this is a summer program, the workload is unlikely to be that intensive, but will still be demanding, with more of a focus on class participation and interaction.
What activities will there be at night?
Your USY staff is planning many different fun ways to keep you occupied in the evenings. A sampling of the entertainment awaiting you on Summer in the City includes a boat cruise, Broadway show, baseball game, comedy club, swing dancing, and Shakespeare in the Park. Every night of the program, your staff will have a pre-planned activity for the group. Sometimes you will even have options of what to do and where to go.
Will there be any kind of community service or social action?
Absolutely! All of our USY summer programs have some level of community service, and Summer in the City is no exception. Since classes are four days a week, you will also have the opportunity during the week to volunteer in the Jewish community. Whether it is visiting sick patients at a local hospital and learning about the mitzvah of bikur cholim, bringing joy to the lives of elderly Russian immigrants on the Lower East Side, or working with less fortunate youngsters, you will be able to participate in some truly amazing programs in the local community.
I love to play sports, work out, and go swimming. Is that possible?
Yup! Included in the cost of the program is a pass to the Dodge Fitness Center, the state-of-the-art gym facilities right next door at Columbia University. Dodge features two gymnasia, an eight-lane swimming pool, sixteen squash and racquetball courts, a tri-level cardiovascular and strength training center, two dance/martial arts studios, a fencing room, a wrestling room, and a one-tenth mile indoor track. Needless to say, you will be able to satisfy your workout urge, if you so desire.
What are the dorms like?
In JTS’s Mathilde Schechter Residence Hall, you will live two or three to a room; the rooms are equipped with desks, dressers, closets, and beds. Each room is part of a suite that contains a full kitchen with a refrigerator and oven, and the best part about it – every room is air-conditioned! The dorms are located on 120th Street between Amsterdam and Morningside, just a few blocks from the enclosed campuses of JTS, Barnard, and Columbia.
Is there financial aid available?
You may apply for Tikun Olam scholarships through your USY regions. In addition, many synagogues may have scholarships available, usually through the Youth Commission Chairperson, chapter advisor, Rabbi, Mens’ Club or Sisterhood. Please be in touch with your Congregation’s Youth Commission chairperson, advisor or Rabbi for details. Additionally, local Federations may also offer scholarship assistance for Jewish academic programs and/or Jewish summer experiences.
Will I receive credit for the courses I take?
Pre-college courses are not offered for credit. Instead of having graded exams and term papers as they would during the school year, students receive qualitative evaluations from their instructors at the end of the program. Students can then submit their coursework and evaluation to their high schools for credit (at the discretion of the individual high school), and it can also prove very beneficial when applying to colleges.
Who will our staff be for this trip?
USY always chooses its staff with an eye to quality. To work for USY Summer in the City is a coveted position, and we receive many applications for the available openings. Selection is based upon extensive Jewish knowledge, commitment and experience working with youth. Our USY staff will be made up of students attending the Jewish Theological Seminary, both male and female; people who devote their lives and their talents to the Jewish people in general and to youth in particular. They are mature, responsible, caring people. These individuals are responsible for the overall functioning of the trip. Together, these people create a safe, stimulating, and fun atmosphere that allows Summer in the City participants to grow as individuals.
What happens if I get sick?
Summer in the City participants will use the Columbia University Health Service, which is open for appointments M-F 9-4:30 and is closed on weekends and University holidays. A doctor or nurse provider in the Primary Care Division can see students. The costs of X-rays, laboratory tests, prescriptions and/or outside referrals are the responsibility of the participant. Care of conditions that exist at the time of enrollment is provided to the extent that it incurs no additional expense on the part of the Health Service. Chronic conditions are often referred to physicians outside the Service. In the event that a student must go to the Columbia University Health Service or St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Emergency Room, they will be accompanied by a staff member. All students are expected to provide themselves with health insurance coverage including basic benefits, which can be used for emergency care and major medical coverage for hospitalization. In the event that a student requires immediate care, a staff member will bring the student to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Emergency Room.
What about safety?
Morningside Heights, the neighborhood in which Columbia, Barnard and JTS are located, is among the safest in Manhattan based on New York City Police Department statistics. At the same time, New York is a city, and students’ safety is one of our highest priorities. At the beginning of the program, they will have an orientation to New York City “street smarts” so they learn to be alert and aware of themselves and others. 24-hour security guards monitor the residence halls and only those with proper identification may enter. Security guards also staff booths at the entrances to all the campuses. Additionally, no participants will be allowed to travel either by subway or taxicab without a staff member, and will only be allowed to spend free time in the local area of Morningside Heights.
Will I be able to visit my relatives who live in the area?
While there are no free weekends, relatives will be able to pick you up at the dorm, during times where there are no classes or required activities, as long as it is arranged in advance through our New York office, so we are able to notify the group leader.
What is the daily schedule like?
On a typical weekday, we will have Shacharit services together at 8 AM, followed by breakfast in the dorm. Your first course will run from 9:30-12 (with a break in the middle), after which we will all meet at the JTS cafeteria for lunch. The course at JTS will run from 2-4 PM, after which there will be a few hours to relax, prepare for the next day’s class, go to the gym, do your laundry, lie out on campus in the sun, etc. Dinner will vary depending on the evening’s activity, sometimes we will have dinner at JTS, while other nights we will go out as a group to a Kosher restaurant.
Will we be leaving Manhattan at all during the program?
Yes. One of the weekends you will leave the city and spend Shabbat in a beautiful, nice Jewish community, with host families. There is also the possibility of other weekend day trips outside the city.
How will we spend Shabbat?
You will have time Friday afternoon to prepare for Shabbat, and in addition to having the advantage of spending Shabbat as a nice, small community of like-minded Jewish teens, you will get the opportunity to experience the flavor of the greater Jewish community on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, as you will be able to sample different area synagogues.
How will I be able to keep in touch with family and friends?
All rooms are equipped with telephones, on which you can be reached, although you will not be able to place long-distance calls. Therefore, we encourage all participants to bring 1-800 calling cards and/or cell phones. In addition, the group leader carries an emergency cell phone and pager, and is in continuous contact with the New York office. The New York office is on call 24 hours a day and there is an after hours answering service to assist you in an emergency.
Will I be able to receive mail? How about email?
Your dorm will have a mailbox in which you can receive post mail during your stay. Barnard and JTS both have computers on their campuses available for your use. In addition, if you elect to bring a laptop computer, the dorm you will be staying in is equipped with an Internet connection.
How much spending money does a Summer in the City participant need?
This is entirely dependent on how much you choose to spend when the group is out and during free time, on items such as souvenirs and snacks. Everything else is covered in the cost of the program, with the exception of course materials for your Barnard course (cost varies with each individual course). We also recommend that you do not carry a large amount of cash at any time. If you would like to cash traveler’s checks or get cash from an ATM, local banks include Chase, Citibank, and Banco Popular; they are part of the New York Cash Exchange (NTCE), CIRRUS, PLUS, and other networks.
How much stuff can I bring?
As much as you can fit on the plane/in the car! The dorms have ample space to store your belongings, and you will receive a key to your room. You will have to bring your own linens, pillow, towels, etc.
What kind of Judaic component is there, outside of class?
One thing that we pride ourselves on in USY is our educational program outside of the classroom. On Summer in the City, we will daven (pray) 2-3 times a day, and on Shabbat, we always pray 3 times. All males must bring talit and tefillin – any female who is accustomed to wearing talit and tefillin may bring them as well. Hamotzi is said before meals and birkat hamazon or bracha achrona is said after every meal. Our USY staff are trained in education and will lead sessions which they have prepared. In addition, we will be privileged to hear from some of the leading Jewish scholars of today, as they join us for dinner discussions.
Request more information
You can request more information about USY Summer Programs, and we will send it you!