Local Educators Come Together at Annual Workshop on Israel Education

Eleven local educators attended the Center for Israel Education’s (CIE) 17th annual educator workshop June 24-28 in Atlanta. The event was hosted by CIE and the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel (ISMI). The objective of this exceptional learning opportunity, funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation of North America, is to empower educators, and through them their students, with an understanding of Israel’s history, politics, and culture.

Among the 65 participants from the United States, Canada, and Mexico were area day school educators Lisa Schopf and Shoshana Sfarzada from Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (DC), Graciela Granek and Ann Nachbar from Gesher Jewish Day School (VA), and Aaron Bregman from Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (MD) who served as a CIE presenter. Congregational educators included Laura Naide from Congregation Etz Hayim (VA), Rina Rebibo from Tifereth Israel (DC), and Jamie Field from Washington Hebrew Congregation (DC). Jewish community educators included Jennifer Raskas from Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington and CIE presenter Steve Kerbel.

Throughout the five-day workshop, participants learned with leading scholars and practitioners in the field of Israel education. Specialized learning tracks enhanced participants’ knowledge in their areas of interest and provided them with unique strategies for implementing resources to serve their community and curricular goals. The workshop emphasized the power of using primary sources in lessons.

CIE President and Emory University Professor Kenneth W. Stein, who created the workshop in 2000, opened the program. “Understanding Israel’s past and present helps to provide a glimpse into who we are as a Jewish people. A common history connects us all, regardless of geography, politics, or flavor of Judaism practiced,” he said. “We need to know Israel’s story and that of its people because Israel is integral to Jewish identity in the 21st century.”

Participants took part in a variety of interactive and engaging learning sessions that highlighted both content and instructional techniques relating to Israel’s history, politics, and culture. Sessions included “Teaching Israel Through Liturgy,” “Multiple Viewpoints for Teen Learners,” “The Tyranny of Language: The 1,2,3 State Solution,” “The Intersection of Religion and Israeli Politics,” and “Palestinian Leadership: What’s Next.” The sessions guided educators on the use of primary sources collected from Arabic, Hebrew, German, and English archives and books that have been gathered by Stein during his more than 40 years of teaching courses on modern Israel for Emory College students.

Participants left the workshop laden with notes, teaching strategies, and curricular ideas to use this coming school year. Lisa Schopf and Shoshana Sfarzada developed a three-year arc for Israel education at the new middle school of Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (MILTON) in DC. Laura Naide and Rina Rebibo are creating a joint Israel learning program for their congregations’ fourth to sixth graders. Graciela Granek and Ann Nachbar from Gesher are adding components to Gesher’s eighth grade Israel trip to make it more of a “classroom without walls” experience.

Kol HaBirah Article