Israeli schools to twin with Australia

December 28, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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The Jewish Agency has launched a new scheme which will see Israeli schools twin with Jewish day schools around the world…including Australia.

At the launch during Chanukah, video links were established between Israel and the Diaspora which featured symbolic lighting of aMenorah by students from around the globe including Australia.

The Jewish Agency has issued the following media release:

Jewish Agency P2G Launches International School Twinning Network

Eliad Eliyahu Ben Shushan leads Menorah Lighting Ceremony by Web Conference. Photo: Sasson Tiram

The Jewish Agency has established an international network that will connect hundreds of Jewish schools around the world with twin schools in Israel. The goal is to create real connections between students and teachers on both sides of the ocean and to bring alive the image of Israel amongst the students in the Diaspora. The network will allow them to experience Israel in a real and live way – not as it appears in the media. In parallel, Israeli youth will be better able to understand the Jewish life in the Diaspora.
As part of the initiative, students from Israel and around the world, who belong to one of the twin schools, will hold virtual meetings on video screens in their classrooms. They will have joint classes in areas that deal with Judaism and general subjects, such as ecology and art, and there will be face-to-face meetings between the students on joint educational visits.
According the Jewish Agency’s data, there are 850 Jewish schools (day schools and afternoon schools) in North America and 300 schools are operating in the former Soviet Union, which hundreds of thousands of Jewish students are attending. The Jewish Agency initiative will expand upon existing connections between the Diaspora schools and twin schools in Israel and will provide professional tools to educators participating in the project. The Agency has an ambitious set of goals for the network going forward including the establishment of  educational standards and criteria for programs. Already underway is a web-based knowledge center that includes: interactive communication, educational content,  and best practices as to how to  conduct school twinning. The educational content will include a menu of programs such as teacher training,  school programming and  increased opportunities for shared learning. The expectation is to expand the number of countries across the world involved in the network.
In the first phase of the project, the participants will include 200 Israel schools and 200 schools from the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, South Africa, Switzerland, Mexico, Russia, Hungary, Argentina and Turkey.
The Director of the Partnership Unit at the Jewish Agency, Andrea Arbel, said, “The international network will advance the connections between hundreds of thousands of students and teachers from Israel and around the world, with the goal of allowing Diaspora Jews relate to Israel as a real and warm place and allow Israelis to better know the Jewish Diaspora.  The greatest value of school twinning,” continued Arbel, ” is that it brings Israel alive to tens of thousands of students and teachers around the world. Israel can be taught in the classroom and Hebrew can be taught in the classroom, but it is only when children and educators in overseas communities interact directly with Israelis does Israeli actually come alive for them.”
The kick-off event, attended by Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive, Natan Sharansky and Director General, Alan Hoffman as well Avraham Infeld a leading thinker in Jewish identity through pluralistic education, took place in Jerusalem this week. Educational leaders from around Israel, along with students from various countries participated in the ceremony, where a simultaneous lighting of the third candle of Hanukah was broadcast on a giant screen. Eliad Eliyahu Ben Shushan, Educational Coordinator for the Western Galilee – Central Area Consortium Partnership, led the canle-lighting ceremony, which featured schools from Australia, Russia and Switzerlad.

Mark Schneider, the president of Sydney’s largest Jewish day school Moriah College, told J-Wire: “It seems to be a meritworthy initiative.
Moriah has been involved in a number of very constructive and successful programmes with Israeli schools including our hosting of a student group from an Arava High School this year as well as joint music workshops and performances on our recent band tour.”


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