This summer Israel and Gaza erupted into war, and two things near and dear to me nearly burst with pain and sadness: my heart and my Facebook wall. Navigating my own feelings and reactions as a committed Zionist with my own influences, life experiences, and outlook has been challenging, to say the least.
The iCenter is currently in the process of building a new and comprehensive web space - an "Educator's Backpack" - on educational resources that will serve as a guide to the wide variety of materials, projects, and ideas that exists in Israel education. Please contact us if you have anything that you believe should be included in this space.
In teaching Israel, we strive to connect our students to the real Israel. Not the Israel of CNN or FOX News, not the Israel of text books and maps and lists of events.
The Israel we encounter when we visit, or when we live there. The Israel we experience knowing that our friends and families live there, that members of our community make it their home.
It's hard to imagine living life under the threat of missiles, never mind having between 15 and 90 seconds to seek shelter after the air raid sirens starts. The following list is meant to give students a sense of what happens with a siren goes off and what needs to be accomplished in those precious seconds. But for many Israelis, not just in the South, it isn't just one siren a week, or even a day. For many, it's a routine that must be repeated over and over again, while at home, at the park, at a friend's house, on the road, at camp, etc.
Alon Harris, an innovation facilitator at SIT, has led many iCenter workshops on developing innovative educational tools. He is also a talented musicain. Last week he sat down to record a song, because for him, it was the most accecible vehicle for his creative expression. He remarked:
"At this time, people can channel their creativity to make connections, express their voice and invite others to do the same."
For many of us outside of Israel during this conflict, we are connecting with people and stories through our Facebook feeds. Some powerful images have been shared - some of them widely circulated and others very personal - which give us a glimpse into life in Israel. Seeing these photos as educational tools, and using a set of questions that we have adapted from Zion Ozeri's Jewish Lens project, we can open up discussion.
We can ask the questions:
Israeli singer/songwriter Etzion Mayer had the following words, when it was understood that three boys - Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Gilad Shaar, 16 - were kidnapped:
The following is a letter written by Amarel Gofer (a Shinshin in Toronto) to her synagogue on her 21st birthday...
Below is a letter written by Orly & Yoel Ganor of Ulpan-Or. It contains information about the conflict with Gaza, as well as some Hebrew terms relevant to Operation Protective Edge.
The news from Israel has been difficult to digest, and it impacts different members of your camp community in different ways. What follows are suggestions for ways to create space for dialogue, questions and sharing of perspectives among staff members, and ways to encourage staff to think about how to broach recent events with campers in age-appropriate ways.