The Open Opportunity to Strengthen Jewish Education and Continuity the Day After Corona
Point of View no. 85
This document aims to highlight the unique opportunity created by the challenge of Corona to both strengthen Jewish continuity worldwide while simultaneously instilling a consciousness of Jewish Peoplehood into Israeli society through formal and informal education.
Jewish communities are in survival mode right now, and it is clear that the day after Corona will bring new realities. Over the past two decades, the Jewish world has undergone major changes that have made the challenge of building Jewish identity particularly complex, with Jewish educational frameworks at the center of this struggle.
The coronavirus is causing significant and traumatic upheaval. At the same time, it also presents an unparalleled opportunity to bring new vitality and energy into Jewish life worldwide. By harnessing the momentum of distance learning, it will be possible to significantly lower the cost of Jewish education and make it more attractive as a result of fundamental changes in values, patterns of behavior, or priorities. In short, new models of Jewish education being built during this crisis can generate a critical turning point in building and affirming Jewish continuity.
Israel can play a role in helping Jewish communities realize this opportunity from its years of experience experimenting with and investing resources into emergency distance learning tools. Because of the unique context in which the Israeli model was developed, it includes not only online learning, but a supportive social framework that aims to enable a familiar environment that meets the emotional needs of students - an issue very important to Jewish communities. Despite the criticism in Israel on the distance learning during Corona, this makes Israel unique even in comparison to the world's most advanced educational systems.
Additionally, moving online creates an opportunity for greater joint efforts in peoplehood education between Israelis and world Jewry. Joint education efforts create a common language and a set of tools in which to build Jewish identity and sense of belonging to a larger people.
Realizing this opportunity requires vision-driven leadership that will be able to exploit the new rules of the game. As examples, the influx of Jewish content online should be organized into a universal and open online Jewish database; Home-centered Jewish education ought to be championed and nurtured; An approach of 'creative destruction’ in education must be embraced; Summer 2020 can be salvaged through joint online informal initiatives. Finally, the use of new technologies being developed as a response to Corona may upgrade the possibilities for providing an online formative educational experience in the future.
The Reut Group uses a unique methodological package to identify challenges and opportunities facing these groups and then works to create new knowledge and strategies around them, Reut then harnesses key players in the field to generate the required systemic changes.
This preliminary document will serve as a basis for a collective learning seminar with representatives of educational leadership in Israel and the Jewish world and will be updated over the next few weeks based on a series of virtual meetings. These activities are a part of the Reut Group’s “Seminar 2.0,” inspired by the “seminar” led by David Ben-Gurion in 1947 in which he built the framework for Israel’s national security concept. Seminar 2.0 aims to encourage the collective learning and adaptation of the State of Israel and the Jewish people in this new era.