“…Israel…serves as glue holding [Jewish day] school communities together.” This is a significant finding of a recent AVI CHAI-sponsored study, Hearts and Minds: Israel in North American Jewish Day Schools by Pomson, Wertheimer and Hacohen-Wolf. According to the study, while day schools and day school parents may differ on religious practices, all agree that a positive view of and connection with Israel is critical.
Operation Protective Edge: Resources to Teach and Learn
The iCenter provides educators, parents, and students at Jewish day schools with strategies and materials to facilitate discussions and learning experiences around Israel.
Please find some of our resources below.
Frameworks for Talking about the Situation
At the end of the day, you don’t know what to say. I felt that a lot this summer, working at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. I walked around camp in the gorgeous Northwoods of Wisconsin, watching campers playing basketball and singing and trying to convince the swim staff they shouldn’t have to go into the lake because it was too cold. And watching members of the Israeli mishlachat whispering to one another in private, crying, checking emails, ducking into the few building with computers to check the news.
When Barak ben Avinoam is about to head into battle, he offers up this bizarre ultimatum to Devorah, the prophetess and judge of the time. “Come with me to the battlefield,” he says, “or I’m not going.” It is quite literally the last thing you would expect to leave the lips of a commander, a military man. Certainly the stereotype of a fighter is someone who has full confidence in himself and his abilities as a strategist. This seems like the worst sort of strategy out there.
As a parent, I struggle with the need to solve the world’s problems for my children. And if not solve, then at least explain, dissect, make them fit into neat little boxes that can be understood. This is how it all makes sense, I want to be able to reassure them. This is how I can promise you that nothing will happen that I can’t make sense of for you.
by Jan Katzew
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011) is not a book about education, but it is a compelling instructive work about how we make decisions. He posits two co-existent systems of thought within every person: one that is fast, intuitive and emotional and a second that is slow, deliberative and rational. In the current highly-charged atmosphere that suffuses any conversation about Israel, it is all too easy to get sucked into thinking fast, in a word "tweeting," which not only limits the number of characters, it also engages emotion at the expense of reason.
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iCenter Resources and Ideas
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.
In teaching Israel, we strive to connect our students to the real Israel. 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. One way that we can expose them to the real Israel is through the authentic voice of Israelis. What illuminates Israel beyond a list of cities, dates, and events for us are the people. The people we know, the people we hear about, the people we pass on the street.
Alon Harris, an innovation facilitator at Systematic Inventive Thinking (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 outside of Israel during Operation Tzuk Eitan ("Protective Edge"), 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 conflict. 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.
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:
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