As Director of Herzog College’s international department – Herzog Global – Amihai Bannett has developed a unique perspective on the relationship between Jewish educators in Israel and around the world.
I grew up in Israel with English-speaking parents, and we spent two years in New Jersey when I was a teenager. I received my Bachelor’s in Education from Herzog College (Class of 1995!) and my Masters’ degree in Education Administration & Supervision is from Loyola University in Chicago. I served for four years as a Shaliach (emissary) of the Jewish Agency in Winnipeg, Canada, where I taught Judaic Studies and served as principal of the Ohr HaTorah Jewish day school.
Upon returning to Israel, I worked for 10 years for the Jewish Agency, coordinating the Global School Twinning Network, and organizing the annual “Chidon HaTanakh” Bible Quiz. The final stage of the competition takes place on Yom Ha’atzmaut and is broadcast on live TV in Israel. It requires months and years of preparation and studying. I met gifted young people from all over the world who love learning Tanakh, and meeting up with like-minded teens at the competition.
At the same time, I developed an international audience of 10,000+ followers on Twitter (now X) for my @Israelconnect page, sharing my educational endeavors and news from Israel with Jews all over the world. I love connecting with people in distant communities, and strengthening our interpersonal connections through the values and history that we share.
In 2022, I joined the staff at Herzog College, one of Israel’s leading teacher training colleges, as director of its international outreach division.
At Herzog Global, we run teacher education courses online for Judaic Studies teachers in schools throughout the world – currently in English & Spanish, and soon also in Russian. Thanks to our partners – UnitED, Israel’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, and the World Zionist Organization, we hope to continue and expand these programs in the coming years.
Looking back at my first year at Herzog Global, I appreciate the opportunity to continue this journey and enjoy the amazing experiences that this role gives me to meet Jews from all over the world.
Over the past year, I have traveled and visited Jewish schools and communities around the United States, Germany and Singapore. I am passionate about education, and my background has given me the experience of working with educators around the world to strengthen the connection between Israel and the Jewish people. I believe that it is a two-way connection.
Amichai Chikli, Israel’s Minister for Diaspora Affairs, with Amihai Bannett
From Sydney to Stockholm, Los Angeles to London, we are in touch with hundreds of Jewish schools. We work with them to empower and upskill Jewish educators, by offering teacher training and professional development to Jewish schools. But it is also my job to listen to the teachers and school principals that we work with about the trends and challenges in their communities.
That is why I have been on a mission to teach Israeli educators about Diaspora Jewry. I believe that we have much to learn from Jewish educational experiences around the world. After all, there have been successful Jewish schools in North America since 1731 and in London since the Jews’ Free School (JFS) opened in 1732!
So, I have made it part of my mission to connect educators in Israel to their global peers. I have lectured to the students on three of Herzog’s campuses – in Jerusalem, Alon Shvut and Migdal Oz – and helped expand a course in Jewish Peoplehood as part of our training of both Bachelor’s and now also our Masters’ students. We have also renewed Herzog College’s Shlichut program, encouraging students to do their part of their student teaching practice in Jewish schools overseas.
With Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and with Herzog Shlichim bound for Toronto
This week, I met with three such students – Koby, Talia and Shira – before they flew to Canada to spend a semester teaching at the Bnei Akiva Schools in Toronto. I hope that they will expand their view of the Jewish world and return to Israel as ambassadors for world Jewry and Herzog Global! Based on my own experience of living and teaching in Canada, I believe that we have much to learn from its excellent schools.
Last month, I traveled to Singapore to present at the international Wikipedia conference about WikiShtetl, our exciting new program to enhance Holocaust education in Jewish schools around the world using the Wikipedia platform. (Details to follow soon!) Editing articles for Wikipedia is one of my hobbies, and I understand the power of crowd-sourcing information. When individuals from around the globe each bring their unique perspective to a joint project, the process is enriching and empowering.
For the past three years, Herzog College has been leading an Israeli government-sponsored initiative called Herzog-UnitEd, working in partnership with Jewish schools around the world. It has created many exciting opportunities for Jewish education specialists in Israel to develop curriculum materials for Diaspora schools. I have met and worked with very talented educators, many of whom have moved to Israel and are now uniquely placed to contribute to the development of international Jewish education resources through these projects.
As technology makes the world smaller, it has become easier to connect online with Jews around the world. During the COVID pandemic, many Israelis heard for the first time that communities around the world were struggling to stay engaged. Israel’s government committed to funding outreach projects like UnitEd to help educate the next generation of Jewish school students. Herzog Global is honored to be playing its part in this process, and to be actively listening to how we are able to be of assistance to teachers around the world who are engaged in this important mission.