An Israeli Investment in Diaspora Relations

Published: 
September 6, 2018

Source: Algemeiner

 

Israel’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs will allocate more than $2 million to the Jewish Agency for its school twinning network, primarily to fund its expansion to 500 additional Israel-Diaspora educational partnerships.

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Global School Twinning Network, provides hundreds of schools in Israel and worldwide with living, breathing connections that transform Israel and the global Jewish people from abstract concepts into tangible realities. Israel’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs recently announced that it will allocate more than $2 million to the Jewish Agency for the twinning network, primarily to fund its expansion to 500 additional Israel-Diaspora school partnerships.

Israel’s Ministry of Education has been an important partner in school twinning since its inception in December 2011 by helping the network develop its curriculum; convene educators for shared learning and training; provide virtual platforms; and other resources. But this represents the state’s first direct monetary investment in the program.

School twinning changes the way students and teachers perceive their roles as members of an international Jewish community, as it also fosters dynamic dialogue on Jewish and Israeli identity. It has been long recognized that a strong relationship with Israel helps strengthen the Jewish identity of overseas Jewry. However, it is equally important for Israeli students and educators to understand that they are part of a global Jewish people with an equal role and responsibility. School twinning is designed to nurture this consciousness at a young and formative age on both sides of the ocean. The secret sauce of its success is the people-to-people element—meaning the direct engagement between the students and teachers that bridge the distance.

In the 2016-17 school year, the Jewish Agency’s network included 600 schools, serving 52,000 students and 2,000 teachers. Key elements of the network include the School Twinning Resource Center, website that offers an extensive collection of lesson plans, educational activities, event plans and teacher guides, both in English and Hebrew; the Online Virtual Classroom, an interactive meeting space that serves as a platform for joint learning, forums, blogs, surveys, photo galleries and chats; and special curricula for twinned schools that focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

Participating teachers consider the initiative an important tool in strengthening Jewish identity and connection to other Jews and appreciate sharing knowledge with other teachers that helps them overcome time, language and cultural challenges.

School twinning was the first major offshoot of the Jewish Agency’s Partnership2Gether Peoplehood Platform (P2G), which connects 450 Jewish and Israeli communities and organizations around the world in 46 city-to-city and region-to-region partnerships, generating hands-on projects and personal interactions that engage 350,000 Israelis and members of world Jewry each year. In many cases, school twinning is an integral part of one of the 46 P2G partnerships. However, one of the first goals of the Global School Twinning Network was to bring ongoing and direct engagement with Israelis to Jewish communities not currently part of P2G, for example, in the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and Europe.

Read more at the Algemeiner

Updated: Nov. 12, 2018
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