JNF Educators Tour

January 16, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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75 educators from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and NZ recently returned from the JNF Australia Educators Study Tour in Israel.

75 participants at the Kotel

Both Jewish and non-Jewish educators, from 27 Independent Jewish Day Schools/Organisations and Public schools have been immersed in a variety of environmental and Zionist projects, providing them with new knowledge, educational resources and first-hand experiences to bring back to the classroom.

For ten days, the delegation toured the length and breadth of the country – from the Golan to the Arava, from the Dead Sea to Tel Aviv – soaking up Israel’s rich and fascinating history and culture.  The real value of the trip, however, was the opportunity to visit local schools, network with Israeli teachers, learn from experts in the fields of agriculture, R&D and ecology, and visit the communities and projects directly supported by JNF Australia.

Principals of Reddam in the vegetable garden

After an educational seminar in Misgav, Cara Norman, a Science Teacher at Sydney’s Emanuel School reflected on her learnings.  “We completed some group work looking at different activities that can be used to include Israeli art, Hebrew language and Jewish tradition into each of our pedagogical teachings”.]

Melanie Fleming, Head of Year 9 and English Teacher at Melbourne’s Bialik College was also at the seminar. She said: “JNF are involved in nearly every aspect of life in the Arava. Further, 50% of all Israel’s vegetables are grown there and transported across [the country]. Hence, many students from around the world come to the Arava to learn about agriculture. After a couple hours of learning about the vegetables, we had the opportunity to see, pick and eat the vegetables. The lush green cabbages were enough to get our mouths watering. We then had the privilege of preparing the food in true kibbutz fashion, where each of us had a role. We sat around the tables amongst the greenery and enjoyed. ”

Yavneh educators planting a tree

Jacqueline Galler, a teacher of English Literacy at Sydney’s Bellevue Hill Primary School spoke on the groups visit to Sha’ar HaNegev School. “My take away from today is that students in Sha’ar HaNegev are not unlike their peers around the world. They have amazing educators and communities that work tirelessly in order to provide them with some semblance of a normal childhood and educational experiences through dedication and effective well-being programs. I only hope that upon my return, I can instil resilience and perseverance as was showcased at Sha’ar HaNegev in my own students”.

The tour was designed to enrich the resources and skills of the educators and to spark their students’ interest in Israel’s history, environmental stewardship and Zionism. These outcomes will be incorporated into school curriculums and classroom learning upon their return. JNF Education Shaliach Yigal Nisell said: “The tour is not only about the teachers who attend the trip, but more importantly it is about the 20,000 students they represent– those they will teach now and in the future.”

Participants giving children at Sha’ar HaNegev primary school greeting cards written by children from Australian Jewish Day Schools

Jeffrey Zerbst, the Academic Manager at the Southern Cross University in NSW who reflected at the end of day 8 “If you don’t love this tour, you do not have a heart, a soul, a brain or a stomach. The pace is furious and the adventures come thick and fast. Like an Australian Light Infantryman riding under the guns at Be’er Sheva, we are on a triumphant ride that has been glorious from the moment the JNF called ‘Charge’. God bless ‘em, for, truly, they are magnificent.”

The tour was best summed up this year by Shoshi Vorchheimer, Director of Teaching and Learning at Melbourne’s Liebler Yavneh College said before the final Shabbat “If my Shabbat in Jerusalem with KKL JNF Educator’s tour was a physical book, there would be many pages dog-eared to revisit and relish. The deep impact of this trip became evident at the Shabbat tisch where many expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to see the Kotel and experience Israel. It was emotional to hear the stories and outpourings of appreciation to KKL JNF for giving educators the opportunity to visit Israel, some for the very first time.”

JNF Australia looks forward to the innovative Zionist projects the tour participants will run in their schools this year.  The projects will ultimately connect Australian students to Israel in and outside of the school curriculum.

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