William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education to Launch Innovative Kesher Hadash Semester-in-Israel Program

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089
Email: evglasberg@jtsa.edu

March 22, 2011, New York, NY

In January 2012, The Jewish Theological Seminary’s (JTS) William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education—America’s largest pluralistic school of Jewish education—will inaugurate Kesher Hadash (New Connection), a new and innovative Semester-in-Israel program in the field of Israel Education. Kesher Hadash will offer an opportunity for ten students to spend five months in Israel and take part in a 12-credit, Israel Education curriculum that includes traditional and experiential ulpans (classes for the intensive study of Hebrew); mifgash (encounters) with Israeli teachers and citizens; volunteer opportunities; day trips; and courses on Zionism and Israel in contemporary education. The landmark program will be geared toward first-year students in The Davidson School’s master’s degree programs and students who will join the programs in fall 2012, and will result in a certificate in Israel Education. The Davidson School is the first academic institution in the country to offer a certificate program in this field.

Defining Israel’s place in American Jewish identity and education is one of the greatest challenges facing Jewish educators today. The Kesher Hadash program is designed to expose Jewish educators who already have some expertise in Israel Education to a markedly more comprehensive yet practical experience of life and education in the Jewish State. The firsthand knowledge, skills, and understanding gained will help each one of them make a greater mark in this critical area of study.

The Semester in Israel is fully funded by The Davidson School and will offer the following:

Academic Courses
Kesher Hadash students will explore the philosophies and pedagogies of cutting-edge approaches to teaching about Israel in different educational settings. They will deepen their knowledge of Israel’s history, culture, sociology, and politics, while studying with Israelis who are also training to become Jewish educators. Together, these new colleagues will learn about the challenges they share and the differences among them.

An Experiential Program
Kesher Hadash students will intern in Israeli schools, experiencing the thrill of Jewish education in an immersive Hebrew environment, and gain insights into the nuances of the Israeli education system. They will visit places they have never been to before, and see places they think they already know through more sophisticated lenses. They will experience a series of cultural activities with a savvier educational eye: museums, theater, concerts, and more.

Hebrew Immersion
Kesher Hadash students will experience a radical new approach to Hebrew language instruction. The experiential ulpan will help them make great strides in their command of Hebrew. They will also take part in social activism programs in which they will work with Israelis who are trying to better Israeli society.

The Experience of Living in Israel
Kesher Hadash students will live in one of the beautiful neighborhoods of South Jerusalem, where they will be able to enjoy daily and Shabbat experiences like no other. They will spend Shabbatot at Kibbutz Hanaton, a remarkable new pluralist Jewish educational community in the Galilee.

Through the Kesher Hadash Semester-in-Israel program, students will develop a proficiency in Israel Education that will make them more marketable and attractive as candidates for an increasing number of key positions in the American Jewish community.

The Kesher Hadash program is the result of a generous gift from the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative, which provided a total of $45 million in grants to JTS, Yeshiva University, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for the purpose of increasing the numbers and enhancing the quality of Jewish educators working with Jewish youth and young adults in North America.

To learn more about The Davidson School’s Kesher Hadash Semester-in-Israel program, please contact Dr. Ofra Backenroth, associate dean of The Davidson School, at ofbackenroth@jtsa.edu or Dr. Alex Sinclair, adjunct assistant professor of Jewish Education, at alsinclair@jtsa.edu.

Visit The Davidson School and JTS at www.jtsa.edu/davidson/kesherhadash.

Visit JTS at www.jtsa.edu.