Educational Mission to Israel an Eye-Opening Experience for Teachers
New York, NY., August 12, 2021 — Thirty-five educators from across the U.S. embarked on a weeklong mission to Israel where they witnessed how Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) is supporting environmental sustainability, protecting heritage sites, and educating the next generation about the land and people of Israel.
Supported by KKL-JNF, the educators were in Israel as participants on JNF-USA’s Educators Mission where they attended the KKL-JNF World Education Conference. During the mission, they visited JNF-USA’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel Campus in Hod Hasharon to meet students, educators, and staff; visited LOTEM’s park in Emek Hashalom to see how JNF-USA is making Israel accessible to people of all abilities; and saw how JNF-USA’s Resilience Center in Eshkol supports children dealing with the trauma of recent rocket attacks in Israel’s south.
Educators Mission participants visit JNF-USA's High School in Israel (Courtesy JNF-USA)
Florida KKL-JNF Israel Emissary Zohar Vloski said: “There is no better way to teach and educate Israel than to come to Israel and connect with all five senses. Our seminar led by the Education Division and the Diaspora Education Department of KKL-JNF is an entirely experiential way to see Israel and this mission will remain engraved in the hearts of all participants for many years. I have no doubt that now the connection to Israel will be made wholeheartedly.”
Chair of JNF-USA's Educators Mission, and Head of School, Krieger Schechter Day School & Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Rabbi Moshe Schwartz said: "I was deeply honored to serve as Chair of the JNF-USA/KKL Summer Educators Mission to Israel. In just one week, we visited so many places throughout the country, seeing first-hand the impact of JNF-USA's work to strengthen our homeland. From our very first stop at Alexander Muss High School in Israel, it was apparent that experiential learning was taking place. Visiting greenhouses growing dragonfruit and pineapple just miles from the Egypt/Gaza border, a resilience center in Eshkol and the beautiful river park lining the city of Be'er Sheva, the Negev has been transformed into a vibrant place to live and work."
Rabbi Schwartz also noted: "The Western Galilee is a place for tourists to stay and visit thanks to the work of the visitors center (soon to be rebuilt after being destroyed in the May 2021 rioting) and collaboration among small businesses. The beautiful new visitors center in the Golan's Hula Valley will welcome guests to experience the majesty of the largest bird migration in the world. I can't wait to take my 8th-grade day school students there in the spring of 2022. I appreciated the opportunity to learn with Jewish educators from around North America and to engage one another in conversation about how to inspire others to see the vision of JNF and serve as ambassadors to bring this message to others in our local communities."
Educators Mission participants take part in a culinary competition at Baba Yona Farm in Israel's north (Courtesy JNF-USA)
Yitzchak Kravetz, an educator at Young Israel of Hollywood, said: “The educational mission to Israel was very beneficial for me as part of the educational committee of Young Israel of Hollywood. I’m looking forward to using all the resources, stories, and tools in order to show my community JNF-USA’s supports for Israel. I was never aware of the many different projects JNF-USA supports, and I’m sure my community members will be surprised to see how they work hard to strengthen Israel in so many ways and build a stronger connection between the US and Israel.”
Educators Mission participants explore JNF-USA's new Be'er Sheva River Park Plaza (Courtesy JNF-USA)
Meirav Kravetz of Hebrew Academy RASG Miami Beach said: “The Educators Mission was the best professional development event I have ever attended. It gave me specific tools I can use in the classroom to teach my students about Israel and the involvement of JNF-USA in supporting different projects in our land. Using the resources and the information I acquired in the trip, I will strengthen the connection of my students to the land of Israel, show the solidarity between Israel and the US, and foster a lifetime commitment to JNF-USA.”
As JNF-USA prepares to host its National Conference in Israel for the first time (October 10-14), the organization looks forward to welcoming new and old friends alike who are keen to witness how the organization is building parks, playgrounds, medical centers, bomb shelters, housing development sites, and supporting people with disabilities, just as Illene Dyrda of Temple Sinai, who had never been to Israel before, did on the Educators Mission.
Educators Mission participants explore JNF-USA's new Be'er Sheva River Park (Courtesy JNF-USA)
“The JNF-USA Jewish Educators Seminar was the most amazing experience of my life,” said Dyrda. “My first introduction to this beautiful land was unbelievable. I cannot believe how many fascinating places we went to and how many incredible sites we saw. I was overwhelmed by being immersed in the beautiful history, the wonderful people, and all of the amazing philanthropic projects that are in progress. I would say my first time to Israel was eye-opening and quite successful, and I cannot wait to return to our Jewish Homeland!”
For more information about the Educators Mission to Israel, click here.
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About Jewish National Fund-USA
JNF-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation building activities in Israel’s north and south. Through its One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade, JNF-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure and programs that support ecology, individuals with special needs, and heritage site preservation.