“This week was the best week of school I’ve ever had because this week the students from our twinned school in Israel came to our school and our houses.” (Wornick 7th grade student)
Israel has been a significant part of our school culture and programs since we joined the Israel Education Initiative “Twinning Project” and twinned with The Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, Israel. Our relationship, or as we call it, our Peoplehood program, is based on the Israel-Diaspora relationship and emphasizes the importance of each community to one another.
During the years our relationship with the Reali School has grown from simple exchanges of holiday greetings to dual curricular units taught in parallel at both schools. Our Middle School students exchange a monthly newsletter, respond to topics in our mutual blog, and recently began using a virtual city where they can meet, leave messages and post video clips. During the 8th grade Israel trip our students spent time with the Reali students, experiencing their daily life at the school while being hosted by Israeli families. While in Israel, Wornick faculty studied and worked with their counterparts at Reali to create a vision and curriculum together.
But the peak of our relationship with Reali occurred when the Wornick community hosted the first students’ delegation from Reali. 24 students and 5 teachers who have been in contact with our Middle School students and teachers during the past two years came to spend a week with us, learn about Jewish life in the Bay Area, and advocate for Israel. Reali and Wornick students traveled to San Francisco, performed community service, talked about Jewish peoplehood and spent a weekend retreat together.
“I personally think that the week with the Reali School was the best week of my whole life. It opened many new doors of opportunity and friendships. I think that whoever thought of connecting us with the Reali School is a genius. This made my life better and I am sure lifted the souls of all of my peers. I learned so much from these kids and made friendships that will last a lifetime. Even though I am already religious, they made me want to be as much as a Jew as I can. They made me proud of my culture and looooooooove Israel. I am forever grateful to the students of the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa.”
“My grasp of Judaism changed much. When we had a debate in groups, their ideas made me wait and think. I learned that these amazing friends from across the world are not much different than me.”
“I learned about the people from Israel and Israel itself. The Reali visit strengthened my sense that Israel is the Jews homeland and it is always welcoming to Jews in the Diaspora.”
The Twinning Project allows us to create a sense of unity between Israelis and American Jews based on reciprocity and person-to-person relationships. Klal Yisrael is not limited to Israel and the United States; therefore, the Peoplehood Program of the schools now includes the Jewish day school of Istanbul, Turkey.
The mifgashim (encounters) strengthen our students’ Jewish identity, create a strong sense of belonging and unity, build meaningful experiences and provide our community with the opportunity to connect to the state of Israel and its people on a very personal level, gaining strength from Klal Yisrael. ♦
Irit Kuba is the Israel Coordinator at the Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School in Foster City, California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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