Rabbi Craig Kacev is the Education Director of the Herzog College UnitED Project. Prior to moving to Israel he was Director of the South African Board of Jewish Education and a teacher at the King David School in Johannesburg.
Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs has invited Herzog College to head up a Global Resource Center to support Jewish schools around the world, with a budget of NIS 38 million ($12 million) for the first two years.
Herzog College will be managing and expanding the UnitED Diaspora initiative, which started four years ago and, together with its partners, has already had a substantial impact on 70 schools across Europe and Latin America. UnitED has worked successfully alongside schools to understand their needs and find solutions that are fit for each environment. Herzog College will add its expertise in teacher training for Jewish Studies teachers around the world, and in the development of innovative digital curriculum resources on Tanakh and Jewish topics.
The new resource center will provide high quality support for school leaders and faculty, including the provision of curriculum content and resources for Hebrew Language learning, Jewish Studies, Jewish History, and Israel Education. It will be led by Tal Shaked-Cretella, Operational Director, and Rabbi Craig Kacev, Educational Director. The intention is to launch initial offerings and support from early October 2021.
Online Platform and Global Resource
At the core of the initiative is the belief that a central resource can serve to support, assist, and improve the offering of hundreds of Jewish schools around the world. It recognizes that many schools do not have the funds to invest in quality professional development and content. It also acknowledges that there is a substantial overlap in what many schools are doing, which can be solved through a central platform. The Global Resource Centre will offer:
Professional development and resources for school leaders.
Professional development and resources for school faculty.
A substantial database of curriculum content and resources.
Collegial networks on dozens of topics run by experts in the field.
Staff dedicated to finding bespoke solutions where schools need assistance in any sphere of their Jewish learning offering.
Conferences, round tables, podcasts, and ongoing conversations.
Assistance to schools in finding resources, including content, research, and advice.
- Educational startup opportunities.
These resources will be continually expanded and offered in English, French, Spanish, and other languages where viable and potentially impactful to schools and communities. While the above initiatives of the Global Resource Centre are broad and will serve hundreds of schools, there will be funding to assist a limited number of schools each year to enter a deeper process that is transformative in nature.
Responding to a Changing Educational Environment
The initiative of the State of Israel was born in the midst of the COVID pandemic, and concerns for the challenges facing Jewish schools around the world. It seeks to create a resource that will consistently support schools in ongoing professional and curriculum development, and provide the platform to share knowledge for success under any circumstances. It aims to harness the lessons learnt from the pandemic, and to support teacher initiatives that worked and can be scaled for the benefit of Jewish schools around the world. It also exists to offer proactive support wherever new challenges arise.
Developing Partnerships in the Jewish Educational World
The UnitED Global Resource Center initiative does not strive to be everything to everyone. It will work alongside schools, community organizations, and existing providers. Some of its work will be in-sourced, while much will be completed in partnership with existing high-quality providers. It will actively seek to find optimum solutions for the substantial number of schools that it will be serving. It will be a platform that provides support in response to each school’s requests for assistance with any aspect of school leadership, teacher training or educational content.
How can we participate in this initiative?
There has been overwhelming interest from organizations and individuals around the world who have been contacting Herzog College. At this stage it is premature to meet with every potential partner, but we do want to hear from as many service providers as possible. We ask that company information and ideas be sent here. In due course, potential providers will be briefed and given all relevant documentation.
We look forward to working with our colleagues to create a truly global and innovative Resource Center, for the benefit of future generations of Jewish children.