Although summer brings tourists on holiday to the Jewish State, a special group that arrives each year from New York and New Jersey has something else in mind.
Thousands of people flock to the Jewish community of Alon Shvut in the Gush Etzion area of Judea each summer to attend a week-long Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh seminar, where teachers – including many Israelis – receive credit for continuing professional development in learning how to apply the knowledge found in the Bible to the life situations faced by their students.
The seminar is organized and run by Herzog College, an Israeli academic Teacher Training College which has campuses in Alon Shvut, Migdal Oz and in Jerusalem. The College runs teacher training programs for Jewish Studies teachers around the world, including cohorts from the United States and Latin America, and produces curriculum resources for educators on Jewish Studies topics that include websites, apps and other pedagogical tools.
“There is so much to learn from Israel, both in terms of inspirational teaching approaches and technology innovation,” said Rabbi Albert Setton, a Tanakh teacher at Hillel Yeshiva School in Deal, New Jersey who is participating in the program this summer.
“On the program, we toured sites in Israel that we teach about, and we can bring the excitement of that experience into the classroom when we teach about Shiloh, Jerusalem and other places mentioned in Tanakh,” Setton explained. “We saw that the history of Jerusalem and its present and future are intertwined – Jerusalem is relevant to our lives today but Athens is not!”
He added that participants filmed videos and took photos of the sites they visited, which were then used to create videos for use in the classroom.