Two hundred and fifty North American and Israeli educational leaders — from synagogues, day schools, camps, youth movements, colleges, JCCs, and federations — gathered in Las Vegas Dec. 1-3 for the iCenter for Israel Education’s iCamp. The aim of the conference organizers was to offer educators the opportunity to learn new approaches and skills to help young people in all kinds of educational settings connect to Israel in personal and authentic ways.
The conference included sessions on a wide range of topics, including the emerging culture of Israel education; a presentation of Sipur Yisraeli, a live Israeli show based on This American Life; and the launch of the second edition of the Aleph Bet of Israel Education, a set of 12 core principles, approaches to content, and essential pedagogies.
“Taking part in the iCamp was, as in many iCenter activities, a warm, engaging, challenging, and inspiring experience,” said Rabbi Meirav Kallush, director of Israel programming at Golda Och Academy in West Orange. “The opportunity to spend quality time with Jewish and Israel educators…is rewarding — sharing and learning from each other.”
Kallush said that one “eye-opening presentation” was by Dr. Sivan Zakai of American Jewish University, “who is conducting longitude research on how children at the age of four and five are able to relate and understand the complexity of Israel and Judaism. This will actually change the way we approach Israel education at the GOA lower school campus to offer opportunities for more complex engagements.”
Other iCamp presenters include Lisa Kay Solomon, author of Moments of Impact that Accelerate Change; Rabbi David Ellenson, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University; and Dr. Zohar Raviv, Taglit-Birthright Israel international director of education.
“The conference deepened my understanding of how vital it is to use a learner-centered approach to Israel (and Jewish) education,” said Liel Zahavi-Asa, Birthright IACT coordinator at Rutgers Hillel. “The iCenter’s approach to Israel education has helped me discover new ways to help students develop a relationship with Israel in a contemporary, relevant, and meaningful way.”