Tikkun Olam

Voices from the field

Ani V’atah (You and I) Will Change the World

By Jessica Lieberman

I first learned the song Ani v’Atah at a Kibbutz ulpan during the first segment of a year-long service program for young adults around the world. I never imagined it would later become the anthem for a public school I would found with a diverse cohort of Jewish and African-American Washingtonians. But last week in Northeast Washington, DC, 80 children at Sela Public Charter School, including my own son and daughter, sang their school anthem with Miki Gavrielov, visiting Israeli rock star, and shared in Hebrew their own plans to change the world. The special event came together when Miki Gavrielov requested to visit the school, after seeing it featured on Israeli news Channel 10, singing the song he popularized. The program, which was livestreamed around the world, featured a whole school effort to integrate the social change message that permeates Sela and its sister Hebrew immersion charter schools, across the country. 

Sela is part of the Hebrew Charter School Center's network of schools that teaches about Israel and global citizenship through a curriculum focusing on the vibrant current and historical contributions of Israel. Students learn about Israel through the lens of culture, language, the arts, technology, and music. Miki’s visit allowed the children to use their Hebrew language skills and knowledge in an authentic setting about Israel and with its people: Miki and his entourage. This educational contact point provided Sela students an opportunity to take their Hebrew language skills and express them through music and conversation. 

In Hebrew, the children told Miki how they planned to change the world: pick up the trash, guard the animals, cherish their teachers, help other people, and be a better friend. In preparation for their annual Israel fair, the children will soon make their own passports and boarding cards.  Although we live in an international city, many of the children who come to Sela have not seen such things before. The foundation we are giving them is a genuine passport to a world beyond their neighborhoods, a world that, because of their primary school education, I am convinced they will be able to change.