National Israel education center to open

The first national center to provide resources for teaching about Israel at the pre-college level is being launched.

Financed by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Washington D.C.-based Israel Education Resource Center will develop materials, train educators, and help congregational and Jewish day schools integrate the study of Israel into every aspect of their curricula.

Lynn Schusterman announced the center’s launch Monday night in Boston before 1,300 day school educators at the national assembly of Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education.

The new center is meant to help close the gap between the Israel education Jewish children receive at the high school level, and the complexities and hostility they often encounter when they reach the college campus.

“We realized that most students were coming to university with very limited understanding of modern Israel,” said Lisa Eisen, the national director of the Schusterman Family Foundation. “The idea that they would be ill equipped to engage in informed discussions, much less advocacy, with so little knowledge and so little connection to Israel” led the two foundations to put their money behind a national resource center that will focus its efforts on K-12 Israel education.

The center is searching for a president and will do some pilot programs this year to help selected day schools better integrate Israel studies into their general curriculum.

When operational, the center will act as a clearinghouse for best practices, allowing Israel educators from schools and informal settings such as youth groups and summer camps to share resources.

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