Posts Tagged 'Goodman'

Camouflaged Education: Another Look at Israel Education

photo2How could I try to hide in plain sight? Well if I was well camouflaged I might use any combination of materials, coloration or illumination for concealment. In the wild I might do this by making myself hard to see in my environment or by disguising myself as something else. In terms of education I might do a great job by simply not announcing what I am doing as educational. I was thinking about this during a recent conference for the Goodman Camping Initiative for Modern Israel History. Thanks to generous support of the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations with contributions from The Marcus Foundation and the AVI CHAI Foundation, the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the iCenter brought together representatives from 27 camps to have their staff explore how they might animate Israel in their camps for their campers.

It was in this context that one of the fellows remarked, “I used to think that there are Jewish camps that taught about Judaism and other camps that were fun. Our camp is a fun camp. And now I get it. You are asking us to make learning about Israel fun.” All of these mostly college aged fellows came together with many Israeli counterparts to enhance the Israel educational programming at their camps. The goal is to get them serious content through activities and materials in a way that they can customize to fit naturally in their camp environment. I am confident that fellows get it. Israel education can happen with rich content and subtle complexity, but at camp it needs to be camouflaged as fun.

Camouflaged education might be the essence of Shavuot, which begins tonight. The premise of our getting the Torah was our promise first to observe the laws of the Torah, and only afterward to study these laws. We received the Torah at Sinai because we said, “na’aseh v’nishma– We will do and we will hear/understand.” (Exodus 24:7) If we needed to study it in a formal setting first we might never have committed ourselves to the venture. There is a lot of anti-Israel rhetoric out there today, especially on our college campuses, and it gives me peace of mind to know that we can create a utopia of Jewish camp in which Israel education can hide in plain sight.

– Reposted from The Canteen.




A Sense of Israel

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of serving on the faculty for The Goodman Camping Initiative for Modern Israel History. With generous support from The Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations, the AVI CHAI Foundation, and The Marcus Foundation, this collaboration between the iCenter and Foundation for Jewish Camp is able to engage 24 independent Jewish camps in North America in the development of an Israel education curriculum.  The goal is to enhance and expand the commitment of North American camps to Modern Israel History, and to enable Jewish campers across the age spectrum to have a deeper connection with Israel outside of camp.

In the training I was able to ask the Goodman fellows a series of questions: What is the type of food that reminds you of Israel? How would you describe the taste of this food? What feelings, if any, does this evoke? What is a smell that makes you think of Israel? What is something you’ve seen in Israel that you would want to see again? What sounds remind you of Israel? If you were to reach out and imagine touching something from Israel, what would it feel like?

The process of looking at Israel through taste, smell, sight, sound and touch made Israel come alive. This line of questions also helped the staff prepare for their work with campers this summer. In answering the questions they discovered the foundations for the Israel stories they wanted to tell this season. I was not fully prepared for the fact that I would also have Israeli staff members as part of the camps’ Goodman cohort, but even more than their North American peers, this process helped them “thin slice” to capture an aspect of Israeli life to share with their campers. The Israelis shared with me that they were surprised by their answers, but looking at Israel through the limited perspective of single sensory experiences gave them a way to communicate the many textures of Israel without losing the nuance or overwhelming the camper with an avalanche of facts. Through the lens of the personal “touch” of Israel, they could see how the Jewish state might touch their campers.

I am excited to see how these Goodman Fellows will impact our campers this summer. I have a sense it will be wonderful.

– Also posted on the FJC’s Campfire

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