More than a dozen leaders in Israel education released a statement “from Jewish educators, for Jewish educators,” offering encouragement, advice, and resources for teaching about Israel in a time of war.
They included access to an extended webinar they led on October 22, 2023, titled Strength for Jewish Educators: Voices from the Field, which you can access below.
Spertus Dean & Chief Academic Officer Dr. Keren E. Fraiman was among the presenters and signatories, along with Spertus faculty member Dr. Rachel Fish. Below is a reprint of the letter and link to the webinar.
Educators across North America and around the world have searched in the past weeks for ways to engage learners meaningfully, sensitively, and appropriately in conversations about the tragedy and emerging war in Israel. We are all devastated. We are also more committed than ever to meet learners’ needs. Today we are creating and curating a wide range of materials to address key questions and challenges; providing briefings and consultations with experts on issues ranging from politics and policy to mental health; and, perhaps most important, convening open spaces for educators to reflect, process, and support one another. We came together for an extended webinar, Strength for Jewish Educators: Voices from the Field, which you can view here, along with other relevant resources.
You Inspire Us
We are inspired by the strength and dedication so many educators are showing in support of their learners and of Israel. Educators are critical role models in their communities. As such, we reaffirm the role of Jewish educators to lead with morality and values as they engage with all learners. Standing together as educational organizations and as individuals, we are a people and, as a people, we are stronger. In addition to the resources and webinar shared above, here are words of support as you navigate this challenging time as an educator:
- Try not to let your fear or your lack of confidence get in the way of addressing the current situation with your learners. We are all frightened. We all lack confidence. We are all still processing. None of us are fully equipped. These are unprecedented, frightening, vulnerable times. Engage your learners with your fear alongside you, not blocking your way. And know that you have a field of educators who are by your side and will make sure you have the resources and content you need to be the best educator you can be.
- None of us are at our best right now. But from this crisis, our field is pushed in new ways. We can engage in what may be the most impactful, meaningful, important work Jewish educators have done in decades. We don’t know exactly what this will look like. As we enter this new territory, be forgiving of others and of yourself, and interpret each other charitably.
- Now is the time for your learners to reach out to Israelis, and not to look away. It is true that exposing your learners to Israelis’ pain might also be painful for them. But these moments catalyze deep, lasting relationships. We must show our learners that true relationships require us to be present for the bad as well as the good. The Jewish People are going through a terrible trauma. We owe it to our learners to experience being part of a People that is currently weeping.
- This is evolving and, while there is much urgency to the moment, we expect the questions and challenges to be lasting. Education is by nature a process over time. We must care for ourselves so that we can continue to support learners as long as necessary. We are now in a crisis and we must be prepared to be in this for the long haul.
- You are not alone. We are a people, and while we might disagree, we recognize that as a people we are stronger together. ■
Chazak v’Amatz – Strength and Courage,
Benjamin Berger, Hillel International
David Bryfman and Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath, The Jewish Education Project
Abi Dauber Sterne and Robbie Gringras, For the Sake of Argument
Rachel Fish and Aviva Klompas, Boundless Israel
Keren Fraiman, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
Jonathan Golden, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America
Shelley Kedar, The Jewish Agency for Israel
Anne Lanski, The iCenter
Zohar Raviv, Taglit-Birthright Israel
Noam Weissman and Andrew Savage, OpenDor Media (Unpacked)
Area of Focus: Advancing Jewish Education