For children and teens growing up in their active Jewish communities – in North or South America, Europe, the former Soviet Union, South Africa, or Oceania – Israel often feels enigmatic: why and how are they supposed to find meaning in a Jewish state so far away, where people speak a foreign language, and which is mired in so much controversy? Many Jewish children and teens have never set foot in Israel, and may not visit or even meet an Israeli until they go on Taglit-Birthright or attend university – if ever. How can we turn Israel from an abstract concept into a vibrant, meaningful place for our students now, while they are growing up – so that they will feel deeply connected to Israel and want to visit, again and again?
Finding Friendship in a Faraway Land
The Global School Twinning Network provides Jewish schools with living Israel connections; changes the way Israelis perceive the global Jewish people; encourages professional exchange between teachers; and builds real-life bridges between our global Jewish family.
Through the Network, each Israeli school is “twinned” with a Jewish school or Hebrew school overseas. Many “twinnings” have been active for two decades; the Network was officially established in 2011 on the basis of many years’ expertise. In just three years, the Network has doubled in size and now includes 600 schools (300 “twinnings”) – and is growing fast! The schools are located on six continents. (Alas, none in Antarctica.)
Hebrew and English become living languages as students engage in joint projects and experience their Jewish education through a new, wider lens. They explore issues of Jewish and Israeli identity through video conferences, shared projects, exchanges of letters and crafts, pictures, videos, and trips to each others’ schools.
The Jewish Agency suffuses the experience with dynamic discourse that engages faculty, students, staff, and parents in ways that are age-appropriate, compelling, and inspiring to entire communities.
• Kindergarten to High School
• In Israel: member schools include both religious and secular schools
• Around the World: member schools include both Jewish Day Schools and complementary afternoon Hebrew Schools, representing all streams of Judaism
• Schools that are located outside of Partnership2Gether regions are also welcome to join the Global School Twinning Network
• A cost-effective solution to Israel education and Jewish Peoplehood education
• Access to curricular materials
• High-level core values and a standards-based approach, developed by experts in the field together with academics, appropriate for use in Western countries and approved by Israel’s Ministry of Education
• Training for teachers and administrators as well as both regional and international teachers’ conferences – provided on the Israel side in partnership with the Ministry of Education
• Assistance to each pair of schools in developing a joint educational program including a shared vision for the program, goals, objectives, and an annual calendar of joint projects
• Online tools for blended learning and sharing best practices
• A platform through which to establish meaningful, long-term relationships with an Israeli community
The Global School Twinning Network is part of the family of programs in Partnership2Gether (P2G): The Jewish Agency Peoplehood Platform. P2G connects 450 Jewish and Israeli communities, in 46 city-to-city and region-to-region Partnerships, engaging more than 350,000 participants each year in meaningful, ongoing connections between Israelis and Jews from around the world through unique programs and one-on-one encounters. For 18 years, P2G has been turning “Israel” and “the global Jewish family” from abstract concepts to tangible, vibrant, compelling realities; growing friendships, genuine feelings of kinship, and an ever-expanding network of relationships within the Jewish people; inspiring Israelis with the rich variety of religious Jewish expression and renewal in the diaspora; helping Jews overseas to more fully understand life in the Jewish state; and raising Jewish engagement and identity on both sides of the Partnerships.