Rich Walter is the associate director for Israel education at the Center for Israel Education (www.israeled.org).
Educators at the Atlanta Jewish Education Directors Council’s annual professional development kallah at Temple Sinai on Aug. 13 participate in “Teaching Jewish Texts Through Music,” a session led by Eli Sperling of the Center for Israel Education.
Engaging educators and students with Israel is the core of our work at the Center for Israel Education. Getting into the field is of prime importance as we help diverse audiences expand their capacity to understand Israel’s story and share that story with others.
In 2017 the world has become more dependent on technology to accomplish these goals, and CIE is no exception. We are offering our first online-only class on modern Israel for teenagers and reach audiences through webinars on a regular basis.
Plans are in the works to expand these offerings. Using technology effectively can help us reach larger numbers of learners without having to gather them all in a single location.
Despite our growing reliance on technology for Israel education and engagement, there is still great value in the in-person encounters we have in the field. The past two weeks our team has worked directly with educators in Mexico City, Washington and South Florida, as well as directly with students in South Florida and adults in Atlanta and Mexico.
Those efforts have included delivering specialized seminars for teachers in Jewish day schools and synagogue schools, as well as Jewish youth professionals. In the first two weeks of November, 160 Jewish educators and 125 eighth- to 12th-graders learned some aspect of modern Israel from our team.
At their core, these engagements allow us to assess the needs of Israel education in communities, both in terms of content and delivery methods, and to model effective techniques. If we are to truly transform the way that Israel is taught and learned in North America, we constantly need to share new techniques and methodologies and use fresh primary source materials.
Just this past week, two local professionals who participated in a CIE seminar asked for suggestions on replicating what they learned from our team with their students.
CIE educator seminars are not just for those teaching older students. On Sunday, Nov. 12, in Bethesda, Md., we presented a special track for early childhood educators led by Risa Walter, the director of early childhood education at the Alefbet Preschool of Congregation Beth Shalom. The session focused on integrating sensory materials to create knowledge and understanding of Israel for our youngest learners.
You can learn more about our work in the community and beyond at our website.