In a unique collaboration between YU and the Jerusalem-based World Zionist Organization (WZO), Azrieli’s expert teaching faculty hosted a day of professional enrichment for 85 Israeli educators serving in Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora. During the event, which was set on YU’s uptown campus, faculty presented teaching strategies and skills that will help participants convey the beauty and spirit of Israel and Judaism to American students.
The WZO sends 200 shlihim (emissaries) to teach at Jewish schools throughout the world and act as informal ambassadors for the State of Israel. The WZO trains its emissaries before they embark on their journeys and provides support and training throughout their stay, which usually varies between two and four years.
“Our goal is to empower Jewish identity through a heightened connection to the State of Israel through ideals like the Hebrew language, Jewish history and particularly Zionist history, which deserves to be as important a subject as it was 100 years ago when it was so fundamental to the creation of our modern state,” said Gael Grunewald, Vice Chairman and Head of the Department of Education of the WZO. “As we approach the 75th anniversary of Israel’s independence, our goal is to ensure that achievements of Israel are celebrated equally throughout our Diaspora communities, and they truly feel a part of this modern miracle of the Jewish people.”
The WZO educators at the event, whose teaching specialties include Zionist thought, Jewish history, Bible and Tanakh, Hebrew language, Talmud and Jewish philosophy, were excited to visit the Wilf campus and connect with and learn from Azrieli faculty. Many participants expressed interest in accessing YU’s various degree offerings to enhance their roles as day-school teachers and community builders; these programs include continuing education and professional development opportunities, a flexible online master’s program and the executive model doctorate, both of which allow for the pursuit of a degree from anywhere in the world.
“We hope to build on this event and create even deeper connections with Israeli institutions in general and between YU and the WZO in particular,” said Stephanie Strauss, event organizer and Executive Director of Yeshiva University in Israel. “This program was a great opportunity for two pillar Jewish organizations to collaborate and establish a professional network pipeline between diaspora and Israeli educator communities.”
Event presentations and workshops covered topical pedagogical techniques and professional classroom approaches, including bully prevention strategies, technology and teaching solutions for the modern classroom, and techniques to embed positive psychology in Jewish studies lessons. Presenters included Dr. Rona Novick, Dean of Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education & Administration; Laya Salomon, Director of Azrieli Master’s Program; and Dr. Mordechai Schiffman; Assistant Professor of Jewish Education at Azrieli.
“It was extremely rewarding to meet this diverse group of Israeli educators, who are committed to not only sharing their expertise with schools and students across North America, but equally dedicated to their own professional growth,” said Dean Novick. “Whether together in the room or joined virtually across the globe, Azrieli believes in partnering and investing in the professional advancement of Jewish educators and Jewish education. We look forward to continuing our discussions with WZO to expand our collaborative opportunities which benefit Jewish educators based in the U.S., Israel and beyond.”