Chicago, IL – To help more Jewish day schools infuse Israel into all aspects of school life and learning, The iCenter, a national Israel education organization, is welcoming eight new day schools across North America into the third cohort of its initiative, iNfuse: Israel in Jewish Day Schools. Each school will create a plan to make Israel education and experiences a deeper part of all aspects of school life, including classes such as science, the arts, Jewish studies, Hebrew language, all-school Israel engagement, and Israel travel. The initiative is funded in part by The AVI CHAI Foundation and through matching funds raised in the schools’ communities.
Cohort 3 is almost full. For more information on becoming part of iNfuse, visit theicenter.org/infuse.
“iNfuse offers a framework for students, educators, and the greater school community to build personal, enduring connections to Israel and Israelis,” says Dr. Lesley Litman, a consultant with The iCenter. “These connections can be built in so many different settings and experiences. An initial step in this process is for schools to map out what is currently happening in Israel education throughout the school and to explore ways, such as articulating meaningful learner outcomes, weaving Israel into additional aspects of school life, and creating opportunities for all faculty to engage with and learn about Israel, to deepen the children’s personal connection to and deep knowledge of Israel.”
We look forward to welcoming Beth Emet Elementary School of Cooper City, FL; Carmel Academy of Greenwich, CT; Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor; Hebrew Foundation School of Montreal; The Toronto Heschel School; Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford; and The Rashi School of Dedham, MA into the third cohort of iNfuse. They will join the 25 schools that have participated in the initiative in past years and remain part of The iCenter family of schools.
Representatives from each school will gather together in September, 2019, to begin their work and to create a sense of community among the schools. Along with this in-person convening, iNfuse includes site visits from Israel education experts and other specialists, online seminars, and one-on-one mentorship. Educators will have a range of resources and various approaches from which to draw on to engage their learners in content-rich and contemporary Israel experiences. The initiative frames a school’s Israel trip as an integral component of the curriculum throughout students’ tenure at the school. A school-appointed Israel Coordinator will oversee both the initiative and support the work of faculty and staff.
“Through the iNfuse initiative, we fostered authentic relationships between Israel and each student, revitalizing a core value of our school,” says Betsy Forester, former Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago, a Cohort 1 iNfuse school.
The 2016 Hearts and Minds study on Israel in Day Schools from The AVI CHAI Foundation showed that infusing Israel across a school and integrating it effectively into curricula is most successful when a school has an articulated vision. The study also affirmed that even young children can build a meaningful relationship with Israel by blending powerful experiences with strong content.
An evaluation by Rosov Consulting on the pilot cohort of iNfuse schools found that the process of helping schools articulate their vision for Israel education and map out where Israel currently was—or was not—in their schools was “the most fundamental contribution” of the initiative and even “eye opening.”
Building on these findings, iNfuse works with schools across grade levels—from high schools, to middle schools, to elementary schools. The initiative especially encourages schools serving primary and middle elementary age children (K-5) to enrich and expand their Israel content, not waiting until the middle school years to bring in rich content.
“We bring a learner-centered approach to all of our work,” adds Litman. “And regardless of age, educators can help learners develop personal and authentic connections to Israel.”