Omaha Hosts Israeli Educators

By Mary Sue Grossman, Program Coordinator, The Center for Jewish Life in Omaha
On April 2nd, 2014 12 Israeli teachers were welcomed to Omaha for the 2014 Partnership2GETHER teacher’s seminar.  The seminar is held annually, rotating between Israel and the U.S. The theme for this year’s event was Partnership2Gesher. Sessions focused on various “geshers” - bridges - to give the Israelis a better understanding of Jewish life in the United States. The seminar, which was coordinated through the Center for Jewish Life, was developed by Eliad Eliyahu Ben Shushan in his role as the Education Coordinator for the Partnership Central Area Consortium. 
Many Israeli teachers vied for the 12 available seminar slots. The teachers selected are involved in an active, successful “twinning” program. “Twinning” is a flagship program of Partnership which pairs schools in Israel with schools in the U.S., providing students the opportunity to connect through a variety of projects. The teachers who were selected paid a self-participation fee, utilized vacation time and forfeited two days of their teaching salaries to attend the seminar. The teachers who traveled to the U.S. were Idit Dado, Denise Perlin, Anna Zavagelsky, Sigalit Barzilay, Nili Tishler, Orli Carmi, Meital Eden, Margalit Fogel, Efrat Srebro, Edith Fuchs, Eti Salamander and Ahuva Lavi.
The fast paced seminar kept the participants on the go from early morning into the evening.  From a campus tour on Thursday morning to the farewell dinner on Sunday evening, the teachers participated in a wide variety of activities. The packed schedule included a presentation by Mike Silverman about the role of the Jewish Federation; teaching at Crestridge Magnet Center at which a twinning relationship has recently been started; a rabbinic panel with Rabbis Abraham, Brown and Gross discussing the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements; volunteering at the Food Bank for the Heartland; leading a workshop for teachers in the Child Development Center; participating in Kabbalat Shabbat at the CDC, Friedel and the Blumkin Home; teaching at Friedel and the CDC; learning about Holocaust education in the U.S. from Liz Feldstern with the Institute for Holocaust Education; attending Shabbat services at Beth El, Temple Israel or Beth Israel; participating in the Sababa Relay and teaching in the synagogue religious schools.  Sunday afternoon featured a teacher in-service which included 14 Omaha religious school teachers.  Hosting the visitors were Patty and Steve Nogg, Pam and Jeff Cohn, Karla and David Cohen, Naava Naslavsky and Steve Caplan, Sara Juster and Eliad and Sara Ben Shushan.
Having the opportunity for Omaha and Israeli teachers work together at the in-service was a highlight of the seminar.  The in-service focused on the four core values of the Jewish Agency for Israel and discussed methods to enhance Israel education in U.S. schools. The group also worked on developing a Partnership project in which all the communities will participate.  Daniel Christensen, an Omaha teacher who attended the in-service commented “it was over too soon, I would have gladly stayed for another few hours.  Meeting and exchanging ideas with the visiting Israelis teachers was wonderful.”
“It was an amazing experience to have the teachers in Omaha” reported Eliad. “The teachers were so impressed with Omaha and the friendliness of everyone they met. They especially loved the chance to meet the teachers and students at the schools and the opportunity to learn so much about Omaha’s wonderful Jewish community.  It is difficult to explain the importance of the teachers experiencing Jewish life in the U.S. This experience will make a real difference in their classrooms in Israel.”
The group left Omaha on April 7th, traveling to their respective twinning communities in Austin, San Antonio, Fort Wort, Indianapolis, Louisville, Dayton, Indianapolis, where they spent two days before returning to Israel.
Partnership2Gether, a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel and coordinated by the Center for Jewish Life promotes people-to-people relationships between Israel and communities throughout the world. Omaha is one of 12 cities in the U.S. partnering with the city of Akko and the Matte Asher region in northern Israel, sharing cultural, social, medical, educational and economic programs. Omaha’s Partnership2GETHER activities are coordinated through the Center for Jewish Life whose mission it is to maximize involvement of Omaha’s Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences. For additional information, please call (402) 334-6445.



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14 Jan 2015 / 23 Tevet 5775 0