Building Bridges: Global School Twinning Network

Published: 
Mar. 25, 2016

Source: Jeducation world

 

The most significant educational initiative in the field of Israel-Diaspora relationship within formal education is twinning of diaspora based and Israel schools. The Jewish Agency’s Global School Twinning Network includes a wide variety of schools: Jewish and non-sectarian; schools from different Jewish streams; elementary, middle and high-schools; day and afternoon schools; schools from different sectors of the Israeli population, and more. To date, 650 schools in partnerships spanning the globe are engaged in active twinning programs.

The dispersion and variety of Jewish schools worldwide is an ideal platform on which to build twinning relationships. The goal is to bring these schools closer to Israel and each other; to bridge cultural divides and join teachers, students, and institutions that are spread out geographically on a virtual basis.

During the past 2 years, the global School Twinning Network, with the support of the Pincus Fund, and as collaborative initiative of the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Jewish Agency and Beit Hatfutzot, created a virtual, global platform for sustaining meaningful relationships, between Israeli and world Jewish students, educators, schools and schools communities.

The platform provides:

  • an on-going community of practice for educators and facilitators, that will increase and encourage professional growth through learning from the others’ accumulated wisdom
  • engagement among educators throughout the world in a meaningful professional and personal interaction through online forums, chats, media sharing, questionnaires etc.
  • social networking by active participation and sharing amongst partnering communities, their educators and their students.
  • a substantial database of teacher-generated school twinning programs, resources and links, screened, mapped, catalogued and processed by School Twinning Network professionals.
  • program curricula developed by external school twinning experts.
  • standards, benchmarks and models for content and student outcomes, as the basis and essence of any school twinning program.

The project enhances the process of building living bridges among educators from partnering school communities and has become a primary resource for their shared educational activities.

The schools testify that through contact with an Israeli school, they are able to turn Israel from an abstract, distant concept existing only in books / media into a real, live, vibrant country that is meaningful to the school’s community. They also indicate that the project enables them to expand their school’s knowledge about Israel and that it develops an emotional relationship with the State of Israel and its residents.

The Israeli schools indicate that the program enriches and expands Israelis’ knowledge of, and familiarity, with Diaspora Jewry, and the different streams of Judaism and pluralism in Judaism.

Being an international communal endeavor, this project taps into the realization that the future of the Jewish people relies substantially upon communities’ ability to create intertwined connections through a meaningful Mifgash (encounter), to provide mutual support in tumultuous times and to take pride in shared achievement .

The Global School Twinning Network, is one of the recipients of this year’s Jerusalem Unity Prize  — founded in memory of kidnapped and murdered Israeli Jewish teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel.

“The Global School Twinning initiative showcases the very best of Jewish communal life through its efforts to bridge gaps and is proof that the Jewish people remains as united as ever. This is a strength that enables us to overcome any challenge,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the unity prize’s committee chair and one of the prize’s founders following the 2014 Gaza war, along with the Gesher non-profit and the families of the three slain teenagers.

The Global School Twinning Network will receive the unity prize in the “global” category, while additional winners be announced in the “local” and “national” categories.

Updated: Apr. 13, 2016
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