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Dilemmas Regarding Teaching 'Israel' in the Diaspora


Avraham Infeld, a renowned Israeli educator (well known in the Diaspora), presents a typology of Jewish identity based on “five legs”, among them the leg of memory, the leg of family, the leg of covenant, the leg of Hebrew and the leg of Israel. The course will deal with this last “leg”. Infeld believes that any Jew, whether or not he or she lives in Israel, has to have both knowledge about and commitment to the sovereign Jewish state. Still, many educators feel lost when trying to work on this important Peoplehood “leg”. What should they teach? At what level? How to prioritize? Should the image of Israel be mythical or more “real”? Should teaching about Israel mean advocacy of the Jewish state? How should they teach students in different developmental stages?

Teaching about Israel is one of many challenges that the Jewish educational world faces in the present. In this course we will define the challenge and then search for and present optimal ways to teach about Israel in different educational settings. The course is relevant for teachers, policy makers and academics interested in the topic.
In the course we will strive to accomplish the following:
1. Get a  better understanding of the challenge;
2. Acquire knowledge of different approaches for teaching about Israel;
3. Deal with value centered curriculum design in the context of teaching Israel;
4. Obtain familiarity with formal and informal models;
5. Learn to take cultural and developmental factors into consideration.
Sixty percent of the course requirements consists of contribution to online discussions. Forty percent of the course requirements consists of a short essay describing a fundamental question we should ask about teaching Israel or a detailed lesson plan that describes the teaching of an Israel-related topic in the Jewish Diaspora. The final paper should be between 1100 – 1400 words. Full details of the writer of the essay should be included on the first page. Three academic sources must be quoted. 
-Bar Shalom, Y. (1997) The Kibbutz at Camp: An Experiential Model in Jewish Education. New York: The Graduate School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Doctoral Dissertation).
-Bar Shalom, Y. (2002) A mifgash in the context of the Israel experience.  In: Burton Cohen and Adina Ophek (eds.) Essays in Education and Judaism in Honor of Joseph S. Lukinsky. New York: JTS Press.
-Bekerman, Z. (2004). Successful Failure: The Building of Liberal Jewish Education. In: J. Bashi, M. Ben Peretz & A. Bouganim (eds.)  Education and Professional Training (pp. 7-30). Jerusalem: Eliner Library.
-Dorph, G.Z. (2011) Professional Development of Teachers in Jewish Education. In: Miller, Helena, Grant, Lisa D., Pomson, Alex, eds. The International Handbook of Jewish Education. Springer.
-Grant, L. (2007) Israel Education in Reform Congregational Schools. CCAR Journal (Summer 2007). Online at:
-Grant, L. (2011) Pluralistic Approaches to Israel Education.  The Journal of Jewish Education, 77 (1), 4-21.
-Kohn, E. (2011) What should I have learned as a Jew after 12 years in a Jewish school? IJJER 3, 35-63. Online at:
-Pomson, Alex and Grant, Lisa D. (2004) Getting Personal with Professional Development: The Case of Short-term Trips to Israel for Diaspora Teachers. In: Joseph Bashi, Miriam Ben Peretz, and Ami Bouganim, (eds.). Education and Professional Training. Jerusalem: The Jewish Agency for Israel.
-Sinclair, A, Backenroth, O, Bell-Kligler, R. (2010) Breaking myths, building identity: Practitioner-researcher reflections on running an Israel seminar for Jewish education graduate students. IJJER 1, 49-74. Online at:,%20Building%20Identity.pdf
Lesson plans, comments and educational materials online (Additional material may be added during the course):
-Eliach, D. (1988) Teaching about Israel.
-Infeld, A. (2011) Five legged table model.
-Myerson, M. (2008) Israel: Programs, Curricula and Resources. URJ website:
-Penslar, D.J. (2008) Contested Space: Maps in Teaching About Israel. Online at:
-Stein et al (2008) Teaching Israel: a more effective strategy:
-60 Ideas for Teaching Israel. (Israel experts website)
Online Videos (additional materials may be posted later):

Teaching about Israel on campus:
Course Methodologies: Readings, Assignments and Classroom Participation

Each week the instructor will post the opening remarks, weekly readings and discussion topics. Students will join in the discussion about the weekly topic, explore texts and participate in the classroom forum (non synchronic).
Course Communication:

Our communication will be conducted through The MOFET Institute. Students can e-mail the teacher with any question or request regarding the course.