"I'm more educated about Judaism and respecting individual choices."
"We had a fascinating conversation regarding the struggle with Jewish identity in the U.S."
"I became best friends with my hosts."
These are just a few of the comments from the latest contingent of Modi'in residents to visit Rochester over Chanukah as part of the "Education Bridge." This is the fifth year of reciprocal visits by select educators from each community. In spring - over Purim - a Rochester delegation will journey to Modi'in.
The group of 10 educators - including three principals, six classroom teachers and one youth worker - spent November 30-December 9th visiting Rochester, getting to know their host families and experiencing American Jewish life firsthand, meeting with local educators and visiting schools. They also had the opportunity to have a little fun - visiting Rochester's unique ARTISANworks, the Mackenzie Childs factory, seeing a performance of Garth Fagan Dance and, of course, shopping!
The main intent of these visits is to cement the relationships formed by the Education Bridge - pairing educators, classrooms and curricula in Rochester and Modi'in. It gives the participants on both sides the opportunity to meet face to face and to discuss the issues that impact them and challenge them as educators and as members of their respective communities.
While in town the group got to experience an example of "public-space Judaism" - a Chanukah celebration and Shalom Sesame launch party sponsored by the Federation at the National Museum of Play in Rochester. They even got their picture taken with Grover and Elmo!
They had a Shabbat lunch with local educators in Jewish schools and discussed the benefits and challenges specific to Jewish education in America. They met with a local rabbi to learn about liberal Judaism in the U.S., intermarriage and the "December dilemma." They learned about informal Jewish education and camps with Dan Irving, Director of the JCC's Camp Sisol and Gesher, their after-school program; and youth group advisor Keith Greer - both delegates on the last (March) trip to Modi'in.
They engaged with the Superintendent of Brighton public schools on the role of religion in public education in the U.S.
Perhaps the most meaningful experiences for the visiting delegation and their Rochester hosts were the bonds that were formed over celebrations of Chanukah, over cooking for the tremendous closing dinner at the home of Leslie and Howard Crane and the simple interactions and conversations that are the real "glue" of the Partnership.
Toda raba to all the hosts and others who helped make the visit so special. Special thanks to each member of the Modi'in delegation for leaving their families for the chag and making the journey to Rochester: Liat Bar Nathan, Judith "Diti" Peri, Vered Albo, Yardena Feinmesser, Ayala Trachtingot, Hila Amrani, Noa Winik, Emily Aka,
Zohar Sherman and Aviva Dvir.