JNF Educators Study Tour 2020
Day 3 – Misgav, KKL-JNF House of Excellence to Jerusalem
Reflections from Waverly Public School NSW and Emanuel School NSW
Andrew Braiding – Principal – Waverly Public School NSW
Day Three began once again with an early start. Of course there was breakfast to be enjoyed and today I spent time chatting with colleagues from local Jewish independent schools. The breakfasts have to be seen to be believed!! There is truly something for everyone – no one ever goes hungry and there’s always plenty of coffee – essential for those early starts!
Departure was highly organised and at 7.45am we departed the ancient town of Tsfat. Very soon we were driving through the valleys of the Upper Gallilee past olive groves, vineyards and villages nestled into hillsides.
Our first stop of the day was the community of Misgav – a municipality comprised of 30 Jewish and 6 Bedouin villages. This community is very proud of the relationships and cooperation between Jews, Muslim and Bedouin. The Misgav Sustainability Education Centre and Ecological Garden is a thriving example of this. 150 people each day come from all over the municipality and this multi purpose centre runs programs in music, arts & crafts, languages, exercise and some specifically designed for the over 60s. This centre connects people – across the municipality – Jewish, Bedouin and Muslim.
A highlight of the day was hearing from Safa a proud Bedouin woman who spoke about the educational challenges in Bedouin communities. Safa is an inspiring leader of her community, striving to improve educational outcomes for Bedouin students and their families. A truly remarkable woman and educator.
Our time in Misgav also included a visit to the Oranim Teachers College. There we participated in a lecture and workshop on the integration of Hebrew as a second language. As Principal of a Sydney public primary school, the lecture certainly affirmed my commitment to language programs being taught in primary schools. Through using artwork as a focus, language and culture can be effectively taught and shared with students.
After lunch – again a delicious meal – we travelled south towards the city of Nazareth. The weather outside was cold and wet so it was nice to be in the warm comfort of the coach. As we reached Nazareth the city was covered in cloud, however we received the warmest of welcomes from Shimon from the JNF House for Excellence.
Shimon spoke to us about the incredible centre he runs in Nazareth. JNF House for Excellence supports students in learning and aims to improve educational outcomes and to close the gap for those living in the periphery compared to students living in the capital, Tel Aviv, through entry to university. It was inspiring to hear from teachers and students themselves how JNF is having a impact on the youth of Nazareth and providing them with the tools to succeed both in their studies and in life.
The day ended with a long drive to Jerusalem where we would spend the next 3 nights. Thanks to Tammy, Yigal and Noam for another great day.
Cara Norman – Science Teacher – Emanuel School NSW
Day 3 was an early start again, filled with another amazing breakfast banquet. I have come to realise that the suggestion of skipping breakfast (or any meal for that matter) in Israel is completely inconceivable. The food has been fantastic although our waistbands might not appreciate all of it by the end of the tour.
After checking out of the beautiful hotel in Tsfat we spent an hour on the bus, learning all about Israeli olives and olive oil, as well as the Druze communities living in the area. When we arrived at the Misgav Sustainability Education Centre we listened to a speech about the area, which spans 180km2 and includes 35 villages, 6 of which are Bedouin. All of the people in the area are encouraged to become involved in any of the many activities that they offer at the center including; lectures, arts and craft classes, excursions, language lessons, exercise classes and courses to help the older generations become more computer literate. It was clear that the main idea of the centre is to reconnect all people in the local area and show acceptance, no matter the person’s religion. After the speech we got the opportunity to visit the Australia JNF park and hear from Zeev about the history of how the settlements in Mizgav came to be and how the area has developed to become an inclusive multicultural region.
The last thing that we did in Mizgav was attend an Educational Seminar. We listened to a couple of lectures, the speaker that I felt influenced me the most was Safa. She is a local woman from the Bedouin community and the first woman in her family to be allowed to get an education and is now also allowed to travel without a man. Safa shared with us about the work that she does within the Bedouin community by coordinating her team to ensure that school “refusers”, children with special educational needs and their families get the assistance that they need to make sure that all of the children in the community get an education. Listening to this speech was both inspirational and thought provoking, reminding us how lucky we all are to live in a country where a good education is so readily available.
Next we completed some group work looking at different activities that can be used to include Israeli art, Hebrew language and Jewish tradition into each of our pedagogical teachings. I particularly enjoyed getting the opportunity to see a mix of different artworks that I have never come across and listening to the interpretations that each group made about their meanings.
Lunch was not surprisingly, very tasty and helped to refuel us for our visit to the JNF House for Excellence in Nazareth. Another 45 minutes on the bus flew by enroute to Nazareth as Noam continued to impart his wisdom about the military, smart bombs and the iron dome.
Whilst at the JNF House for Excellence, which is one of 10 centers around Israel, we listened to a talk about the work that they are doing. We heard from the director, teachers and students. It is clear that the work that they do at the centre is invaluable and it is almost impossible to summarise it all in a blog. The centre has an amazing philosophy to offer a FREE after school program for any students that live in the periphery, to try and balance the inequality between the education offered to students in the city center and the periphery. However, the center is more than just an after school tutoring program, but instead an opportunity for students to develop themselves as well rounded individuals and life long learners. They also help to bridge the gap between education and employment/university by tapping into Israel’s start-up reputation, offering enrichment courses with a technology focus and also bringing in specialists from the highly sought after Israeli army cyber unit to improve the students chances of getting accepted into this unit.
Today was another enlightening day of activities giving us all a lot to think about and discuss on the long journey to Jerusalem. Although by the time we got back on the bus we were all exhausted, some of us even managing a nap during the journey.