The Subject of Israel Education is Not Israel

January 3, 2016

Source: The Jewish Week


In truth, Israel is not the subject of Israel education — rather it is the one learning about Israel. The content of Israel education is not Israel — but rather the relationship with Israel. The aim of Israel education is not Israel but rather finding a meaningful role for Israel in our lives. The iCenter, the hub of Israel education in North America, constitutes a 21st-century address for such an approach. It invests deeply in professional development opportunities for educators across all kinds of learning environments — on Birthright Israel buses, at Jewish camps, in day and congregational schools, and elsewhere. Its aim is to both initiate and then further develop the relationship between a person and Israel. When done effectively, this relationship will be ongoing and meaningful. It will evolve as the person evolves and matures. One’s relationship with Israel may look entirely different at age 50 than it did at 15. But the relationship is there nonetheless because it originated with the person.

An obvious question in all of this is the “how.” How are these relationships between learners and Israel facilitated? The truth is, while it is a lot easier to sit students behind desks and talk at them, true education is about facilitating a conversation between the learner and Jacob, Hosea, Herzl and Yitzchak Rabin. It is not about reading books about Israel; it is about talking with them in their various venues as if we were sitting in a coffee shop on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem. It requires an educational language and framework that offer educators different approaches to facilitate these critical relationships.

We are learning more about excellent Israel education every day. It involves a new vision, a new conception of content and innovative educators with passion, knowledge and the courage to educate. Undoubtedly, we need more investment in a broad range of professional development opportunities for Jewish educators, rabbis, and communal professionals who see Israel education in a new light. With this principled approach, educators will facilitate lifelong relationships between learners and Israel. Through this vision we will enable a new generation to shape lifelong relationships with the value, the place and the people called Israel.

Read more at The Jewish Week.

Updated: Jun. 01, 2016