Stronger Engagement of US Youth with Israel is Focus of
Lookstein Center of Bar-Ilan University Session for
NY UJA-Federation's Israel Affinity Group
New York, NY – "The Vibrant But Morally Confusing Reality of Modern Israel: How Can We Engage and Educate American Youth?" was explored by more than 50 participants who took part in an interactive session facilitated by Stuart Zweiter and Esther Feldman, of The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education of Bar-Ilan University. The session for the UJA-Federation of New York's Israel Affinity Group took place on March 4th at the Federation headquarters in Manhattan. In addition, participants from Westchester connected to the session via live interactive videoconferencing.
Coming together at the session on ways to better engage US youth with Israel are, from left, Stuart Zweiter, Director of The Lookstein Center; Bruce Weiser, Senior Development Executive at UJA-Federation of New York; Maddy Bucksbaum Adamson, a member of the UJA Federation of NY's Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal's Task Force on Experiments in Teen Engagement; and Esther Feldman, Information Technology & Financial Services Director at The Lookstein Center.
Designed as a simulated classroom, the session featured two video clips from the Internet depicting the Palestinian and Israeli narratives. Participants were initially asked to react to the video clips by using their cell phones to connect to the PollEverywhere platform. Comments texted from their cell phones appeared on the large video screen in the front of the conference room. These set the stage for a lively discussion during the question and answer session about the importance of offering students a substantive Israel education prior to college.
It was the consensus of the group that students must be exposed, in both formal and informal educational settings, to the complexities of modern Israeli life. Zweiter said it was important for Jewish students in the United States to know both the Israeli and Arab side of the arguments, so that they can better defend Israel in a university setting where they will interact with people from varied backgrounds and who hold different opinions about Middle East issues.
Over 50 participants took part in the interactive session.
The Lookstein Center, which receives support from the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University, is a service and research organization that offers a comprehensive range of programs for Jewish educators and schools. It draws its core strength from the unparalleled pool of master educators from around the globe who now live in Israel, while maintaining a close relationship with educators and communities throughout the world.
The Center has pioneered the development of the first comprehensive Israel curriculum designed for students in grades 1-8, which is currently being used in Jewish schools throughout the English-speaking world. It is now developing a digitalized interactive version of the English language curriculum, as well as a digitalized version translated and culturally adapted for use in schools throughout the former Soviet Union.