Israel, the land and the people, belong to Beth Shalom and we belong to Israel. We will celebrate the beauty and accomplishments of that country, our homeland, and we will strengthen our connection to the land. Here, you will be able to find a way to connect to Judaism through the activities of Israel as we explore topics in the following areas:
- Judaism in the Diaspora vs Judaism in Israel
- Conservative Judaism in Israel
- Trips to Israel
- Israel and the Palestinians
- Israeli History
- Israeli Literature
Israel and Our Teachers – in their words!
Julie Lewinter, Art Instructor, Early Learning Center
In 2016 Jennifer Slattery and I were fortunate enough to be selected to for a 10 day program in Israel to study the schools and ways that we can bring Israel and its traditions back into our classrooms here at the ELC. It almost felt like winning the lottery and proved that I was a worthy enough candidate and educator, and that my work was respected and admired in the Jewish Community. Ever since I was a child I had a creative mind, from drawing on things that I shouldn’t to having my heads in the clouds most of the day. I was always thinking about something artistic and how to beautify our world. Becoming a studio educator seemed like the right fit for me to pursue that dream and create an empire.
Our group became close knit and shared the bonds of sisterhood fast. We all discovered that regardless of our level of observance, we all were there for a reason and all had something in common. By collaborating with our peers and our love of educating children, our friendships became strong and our respect for one another boundless. The school system was structured as different as one could only imagine. The drop off times, the programming, the routine, and the scheduling were all something that could not be replicated here in the US. State standards and accreditors would be maddened if they witnessed the items in Israeli classrooms. How they were handled, where they were stored, and the ages the children who used these tools would all be questionable in deciding whether or not to keep an institution like this open in our country.
In Israel I discovered a freedom, the kind of freedom that I remembered growing up as a child in the 80s–the independence to play on a rusty swing set, use your parent’s tools and not the plastic kind, and to just be free to explore and learn from your mistakes. Classrooms used real items like saws and nails, hammers, old computers and office chairs. The choices available to these children assisted in them becoming more self-sufficient at a younger age and aided them in developing fine and gross motor skills better than what we could find in a toys store or an educational supply catalogue. Some of these concepts and ideas I brought back with me to include in The Valinsky Art Studio, such as a woodworking table with real tools, a station where children can make soaps and scrubs, and growing our own mint to make tea. The lack of restrictions in these classrooms added a mellowness and wisdom that cannot be matched here in the United States except in Reggio-inspired schools. Some people would question this being art, but to be an artist you must learn the ways of using real materials and mastering that skill. Art is truly the process until mastered and then later in life, the product.