7 Schools and 7000 Miles -- Partners Across the Ocean
JETS Shutafut (Partnership) program is moving into gear as students in 22 schools in Israel and in North America "meet" their peers virtually, and prepare to embark on a wide range of projects that will enable them to learn more about each other's religious customs, history, culture and daily lives.
One of the veteran partnerships involves five Birmingham Alabama schools who have partnered with the Rosh HaAyin G'vanim and HaYovel Schools.
Over the past year these students have learned about each other -- the Israeli students try to read and post in English which improves their English skills while the Birmingham students can read and post in either Hebrew or English, depending on in which language they wish to work (the Birmingham schools include both public schools and private Jewish Day Schools, so posting in Hebrew isn't an option for the public school students. )
This year there are new classes involved and the topic for the course, as decided last year by the schools' staff and students, involves "Heroes." Students present a hero in their lives, work together to identify what makes a person a hero, and then learn about community heroes. There are nine teams, each including students from each of the seven participating schools. The students work on the Wikispaces Learning Management System which allows them to share their own work and view the work of their peers without concern for the 8 hour time difference.
The Emek HaHula partnership with Edmonton Canada is also entering its second year. The subject matter for this year's course is "Jewish Peoplehood." After the new Edmonton and Emek HaHula students introduce themselves to each other and learn about their peers across the ocean, they will begin to delve into what it means to be a part of the global Jewish community, both for Israelis and for Jews who live in the diaspora. In addition, six more diapsora schools have connected through JETS to six Israeli partner schools to collaboratively explore the meaning of "Jewish Peoplehood".
By discovering their common roots, customs, concerns, and interests students participating in JETS Shutafut programs will use their virtual meetings to build real bridges.