Source: Shorshei Yisrael
ORT’s Israeli Roots Project was launched in 2000 and has since grown to encompass 30 high and junior high campuses throughout Israel. With a total of 25,000 participating students, it is the network’s largest stand-alone educational program. The project aims to unite students with their Jewish heritage and culture in a user-friendly and pluralistic approach, and to strengthen their Jewish identity and familiarity with the literary and cultural treasures of the Jewish people, evolved over the past 3,000 years.
The project employs an innovative and unique methodology developed by ORT Israel through which each school chooses a leadership team comprising teachers, parents and students who study in a "Chevruta" (traditional interactive study group). This collaboration allows team members to develop custom-made and multidisciplinary educational programs designed to fit the needs of the local community. Once the educational program is developed, it is incorporated into the school's curriculum by the leadership team and implemented as part of the regular timetable. In this way, more than 55 tailor-made study curriculums have been developed.
Israel Roots on the Web
The Israel Roots website serves as a resource center, a platform for sharing knowledge and a forum for teacher training and communication among participating schools and communities, as well as an arena for online events.
Study Activities - Learning through Experience:
- Community Bet Midrash – this traditional study hall format has been adapted to the reality of the twenty-first century; students, teachers and parents study and discuss key issues in Jewish thought and tradition, as reflected in diverse texts – ancient, classical and contemporary.
- The Israel Roots website-based "Virtual Beit Midrash" offers opportunities for interactive study, while combining classical and cutting-edge ways of learning.
- Jewish debating – disputes and topics from Jewish tradition are studied through active debate.
- Online events – real-time web activities on current events and issues are led by public figures and experts.
Teen Community Service Leadership – Tikkun Olam
The latest programmatic addition targets 11th grade students and offers them an opportunity to participate in a structured leadership training course, infused with Jewish perspectives on social responsibility. Students then commit themselves to significant community service with disadvantaged populations in their local communities.
Experience has shown that school principals are critical stakeholders in the success of any educational venture. In the case of the Roots program, extensive resources have been invested in recruiting and empowering principals to view themselves as critical to ensuring integration of the program’s various activities into their schools.
The "Roots of Israel" program is run with the support of the UJA-Federation of New York and the Legacy Heritage Fund.