Herzog College’s global support network transcends international boundaries. During the Corona pandemic, we have used online platforms to reach out to Jewish schools all over the globe, supporting educational endeavors in some of the world’s oldest and smallest Jewish communities, and in the largest and most modern Jewish centers.
Teaching English in Tunisia
In December 2020, Herzog Global, together with the Herzog College English department, started an online English language program for Jewish high school students in the tiny Jewish community of Djerba in Tunisia. The project was developed at the suggestion of the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust (Jacques Preis and Evelyne Salama, Trustees) in partnership with the Salamanca Foundation, which supports both the Djerba community and the Herzog College film studio.
The Djerba English course was developed by Dr. Tanya ben Chitrit, English lecturer and pedagogical counselor in the Herzog College field practice program, together with Ronit Breslaw, a recent Herzog graduate who has joined the teaching staff while working on her PhD at Haifa University. Using Zoom and the Moodle educational platform, they have been teaching English online to girls in grades 10 through 13 at the Kanfei Yona High School. The girls are very motivated to learn and very appreciative of the opportunity to learn with experienced teachers from Israel.
Dr. Lindsay Shapiro-Steinberg, Chair of the Herzog College English Department, says: “This has been a very inspiring venture for us. Djerba is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, with around 2,000 members who are mostly young and French-speaking. Their girls’ high school has been unable to provide English classes in recent years, but their students wanted to learn the language so they can work in the local tourism sector. It has been exciting to develop a customized English language course for the school, which will hopefully open up many opportunities for the students and their community.”
Jewish Studies Workshops in Rome
In February, several senior Tanakh lecturers from Herzog College participated in the Oral Torah Teachers’ Seminar organized online for the Jewish Studies teachers of the ORT Liceo Renzo Levi High School in Rome, one of the largest Jewish schools in Europe in another of the world’s oldest Jewish communities.
President of the College Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Brandes spoke about the challenges of teaching Torah in a high school setting, especially Oral Torah, and reviewed some of the “big questions” about Jewish thought and practice that arise in the classroom. Rabbi Noam Schlesinger, lecturer in Torah Sheb’al Peh, ran a workshop for the Jewish Studies teachers on educational techniques.
The event was coordinated by Rav Uzi Fuchs from the Herzog College Torah Sheb’al Peh department, together Ethel Barylka, professional development advisor, and Michael Cohen, city consultant, from the staff of the Educating For Impact program, which works with Jewish schools in Europe and around the world.
Training Teachers in English and Spanish
Herzog College’s Rimonim International Teacher Training Program for Jewish Studies teachers qualifies them to receive a Teaching Certificate for Diaspora Educators from the Israeli Ministry of Education. This two-year program is currently running in Spanish and English with 60 teachers from Jewish schools in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Panama, South Africa and across the United States. Herzog Global’s Spanish division, led by Rabbi Shmuel Kornblit, also runs online training seminars for educators in Argentina, Mexico and Panama, including training teachers, Rabbis and Chabad Shlichim to use the new Spanish version of the HaTanakh.com website. These initiatives are co-funded by Israel’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
Ariel Erani, Head of Herzog Global, says: “Herzog College is proud to be providing professional training programs for Jewish educators all around the world. The accessibility of online platforms has helped us to shrink the world and reach Diaspora communities who would never have sent their teachers to Israel for training. At the same time, the ongoing need to teach children online is creating new challenges for schools and teachers, and requiring them to upskill and adapt to the new normal. At Herzog Global, we are excited to be pushing the boundaries in professional training to equip Diaspora Jewish teachers to succeed in their crucial work.”