Monday, May 5, 2014

Beyond the Yom HaAtzmaut Parade – An Interdependent Israel Independence Day Adventure

Yom HaAtzmaut – Independence Day -- celebrates one of the most miraculous occurrences of all times – the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and the establishment of the State of Israel.

Israeli kids feel the excitement of Yom HaAtzmaut as they are thrown into the spirit of the holiday together with their countrymen. They may, however, lose sight of the meaning behind the celebrations. Meanwhile Jewish kids who live outside of Israel celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut vicariously and don't experience the thrill and exhilaration that Israelis feel.

To bridge these gaps the JETS Edmonton-Emek HaHula Shutafut program focusing on Israel and Jewish Peoplehood encourages participating classes to work together to dig deeply into the theme of Yom HaAtzmaut as they take a closer look at issues of Jewish peoplehood. 

The Shutafut project, which is facilitated by JETS Jerusalem EdTech Solutions, bases its curriculum on the following definition of Jewish Peoplehood:

Jewish Peoplehood is a combination of culture, religion, history and values under a Jewish umbrella that gives us the profound feeling of being connected to other Jews. It is a sense of responsibility created by people who share a story, or are part of the same ongoing conversation. It is maintained through ongoing education and contacts between Jewish people.

As Yom HaAtzmaut approaches JETS posted the final unit of the year, exploring issues that unite the Jewish people and unify Jews worldwide with Israel.  The unit involves a wide variety of opportunities for students to think deeply about the place that Israel holds for all Jews.. Toward that end participating students were asked to complete a thought-provoking survey that points to the fact that the creation of the Jewish state has raised complex challenges. The survey forces the students to share their thoughts about issues of mutual responsibility of Diaspora Jews for Israel, and Israeli Jews for the Diaspora.  For example:

·      Should the Israeli army protect Jews around the world?
·      Should Diaspora Jews serve in the Israeli army?
·      Should Diaspora Jews vote in Israeli elections or have a say in Israeli policies?
·      Should Diaspora Jews pay a tax to Israel?

As part of this unit students also view the Fountainheads Yom HaAtzmaut video:

The video is intended to spur a discussion about the lyrics – " This is my homeland / This is my story / I build my future/ With ancient glory." Questions include:
§  How do you understand that line?
§  b. What is another line in the song that echoed the meaning, or which line did you find meaningful?

Students communicate with each other on the bi-lingual Wiki platform which facilitates the ability of students to respond in their own language or to practice their second language skills by writing in Hebrew or English.

As a recent online meeting  demonstrated, the students gain a tremendous amount by interacting on the WIKI, exchanging ideas and learning from each other. Although the Edmonton and Emek HaHula students won't be celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut together "face-to-face" they will, via their Shutafut program, be  learning and celebrating together through the online friendship that has been fostered by their year-long partnership.

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