Friday, October 25, 2019

The power of experiential education in Israel: 'Involve me and I’ll learn'

By Amanda Feder

From a young age, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. I have a passion for learning and long to see and know as much as possible. As a student, I learned best when I was involved in the lessons: The more engaged and hands-on the experience, the better the chances of retaining what was being taught. 

When I became a teacher, I carried that mentality with me into my classroom, and I aim to make learning as experiential as possible for my students.

Growing up, I attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland, and Israel was a core component of my daily life. Whether it was studying the Torah, listening to Israeli folk music, or learning about the country's vibrant history, my love for Israel has always been with me. 

I visited Israel a few times throughout elementary and high school, and with each visit I saw firsthand what I was taught in school -- Israel became my classroom.

It wasn't until I was finishing high school that I experienced Israel in a way that would completely transform my life. At my school, seniors graduate in February and spend what would typically be the last semester of high school living in Israel. My class attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI-JNF), and it showed me what an entire school built on experiential learning looked like.

Friday, October 18, 2019

I'm proud to mentor the next generation of leaders to stand tall for Israel

By Laura Salzer

Life has an interesting way of showing us what we find important. Little did I know my son's decision to move to Israel, volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces, and become an Israeli citizen in 2014 would have such a drastic impact on my own life.

Lauren Salzer
Until that point, I thought I knew a lot about Israel. I was taught about the country in religious school and visited and read about Israel over the years. Then, I joined Jewish National Fund, and my eyes were opened to all the innovative projects the organization spearheads for all Israelis. 

I learned about the real Israel, the people, the land, the history, and our future. For me, being a part of JNF has felt like working toward a master’s degree in Israel studies: It's such a transformative and fulfilling learning experience -- one I feel compelled to tell others about and encourage to take on themselves.

I am a strong advocate for education. It is vital to know our collective history so that in the future we can continue to protect and develop the land of Israel. As a member of JNF's Women for Israel, I am able to support, educate, and mentor the next generation about the importance of Zionism and Israel.

Friday, October 4, 2019

At JNF conference, student has a powerful revelation about Judaism

The author, pictured top right.
By Ruby Rosenthal

In many ways, Judaism has a moral compass built in. After attending Hebrew school for six years, and five subsequent years assisting as a madricha, or youth leader, I've realized there's a common theme that permeates my religion: Judaism is about giving.

Growing up, our Hebrew school classes began with a tzedakah box. I remember it very clearly as being blue and green and featuring the state of Israel prominently on the front. As students, we'd often shake it, trying to see how much was inside by listening to the clang of the money against its tin walls. 

Every week, we were instructed to bring in a few coins or dollar bills to slip through the slit of the box, and later, we'd sing a song to explain why we weren't saving the cash for ourselves: "Tzedakah, tzedakah, we do what we can / To help other people and our fellow man / With quarters and nickels and dimes -- pennies too! / Tzedakah, tzedakah it's the best we can do."