Everything was in place: the silver kiddush cup beside the rolled-up Torah. The ceremonial candle, brushing braided challah. Twin boxes of Streit’s matzot, unopened.
But this wasn’t a hushed synagogue readying for the holidays. It was a Northern Virginia high school — loud, growing louder as class let out one Tuesday last month.
Jacob Book, 16, adjusted his kippah and stepped forward to face two dozen students, none of whom he knew, at James Madison High School, which he does not attend. He pointed to three friends standing beside him, behind the table with the challah.
“We are here to talk about our lives as Jewish teens,” Book said, “to you.”
He cleared his throat. “Other teens.”
The afternoon in Vienna, Va., marked the 25th time this school year that Jewish students walked into Washington-area classrooms, gymnasiums or auditoriums — during or after class — to spend an hour explaining their faith to non-Jewish peers. The visits take place through Student to Student, an adaptation of a decades-old Missouri program that the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington brought to the District last school year in a bid to combat a massive spike in anti-Semitic bullying.