Ellie Lichtash

16 July 2018

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Working on Global Jewish Education

Working on Global Jewish Education

This past week Alicia Stern, our board president, and I attended the first ever Global Jewish Education Summit in Israel. I am thrilled to share with you information about our incredible experience working with other educators and professionals dedicated to Jewish Education within the Israeli government including the President of Israel, Mr. Rubi Rivlin (who hosted us for an incredible dinner at his house) and Israeli Minister of the Diaspora Affairs and Education, Naftali Bennett .
Here are some highlights and key points of what we heard:

Daniel Gordis:
When teaching about Israel – teach the truth. The good the bad and the ugly. Don’t just focus on the wars that Israel fought and won, concentrate also on the profound leaders in Israel’s history and the remarkable human kindness and stories in its past and present.

Professor Alex Pomson: 
Educators need to give older children opportunity to discover through experience – do not be didactic about it. Allow them to choose, form their thoughts and reach their own conclusions.

Rabbi Menachem Liebtag:
Israel is the only place that Jews and Arabs work together in the Middle East.  It is a partnership that – absent the extremes on both sides – works in daily practice.

Naftali Bennett:
The relationship with the Jewish communities outside Israel is a two way street. There are now investments to be made by both sides.  No longer is Israel only a refuge for Jews to escape the war and persecution elsewhere – it has something to give the world.

Chief Rabbi of South Africa: 
Parents who are involved with their children’s education allow their child a transformative experience. The children become literate and proud Jews when learning Torah together with their parents.

Itamar Kremer, Excutive Direcor of Beit Hatfuzot:
To tell a story of a people,  tell a story of a person.

With our colleagues around the globe we discussed some of the challenges facing educators in the Diaspora.  Here are some of the issues we identified:

Recruitment: we need to  find highly qualified teachers for Jewish studies and Hebrew who understand the culture outside Israel (Miami, NY and LA are exceptions since they hold very large Israeli, Hebrew speaking pool of educators)

Raising the Bar: we must develop high quality materials for Jewish studies in languages other than English which are hands on and applicable in any language.

Anti Semitism: it has grown around the world in different communities,  mainly France, England, Switzerland, South Africa and others that heighten the need for security.

Alicia and I had many meetings, among them with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Director General, Dvir Kahana. And with the head of Matach, Hana Holland.  We are talking and thinking about the strategies needed to bring about change and address the issues I note above.

It’s been an amazing few days indeed!  I look forward to talking more with you about it.

Ellie Lichtash

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