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Be`eri School for Teacher Education – Celebrating First Five Years

The Be’eri School for Teacher Education, established in partnership with Keren Karev in 2010, is today the largest and most intensive Tarbut Yisrael (Jewish heritage studies) teacher-training program in the country. The wide geographic reach, from the main Jerusalem campus to Be’er Sheva in the south and Karmiel in the north, the significant number of teachers trained annually, breadth of study required for certification, and the quality and depth of study have made the School a leader in strengthening pluralistic Jewish-Israeli education among educators in secular Israeli high schools.

Through intensive two-year training courses for teachers, the School has developed a pluralistic and democratic Jewish-Israeli identity discourse among Tarbut Yisrael educators, providing them with pedagogic tools, and inspiring them to promote educational agendas that focus on Jewish identity education. Graduates receive Ministry of Education certification as Tarbut Yisrael teachers. A track for high school principals and directors of community and municipal centers meets at the Jerusalem campus every two weeks to discuss the practical application of Tarbut Yisrael in their schools or organizations.

Based on the Be’eri business plan, we are currently working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Be’eri philanthropic partners to increase the percentage of fully trained Tarbut Yisrael teachers in Be’eri schools to 70% in the next two years.

The 2014-15 academic year saw teacher-training cohorts open at the School’s branches in Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva. Much of last year’s curriculum in all branches focused on Judaism and democracy, pluralism, and our attitudes towards "the other" in all their complexity. Both the Jerusalem and Karmiel branches graduated teachers’ cohorts this past June. Teachers who studied at the School attest to its success in empowering educators to promote Tarbut Yisrael in their schools and the wider community. These educators, who have the power to affect change far beyond their classrooms, have been instrumental in shifting Jewish studies from a marginal discipline into a cornerstone of secular high school education.

Maayan Shukri, a teacher in the Teddy Kollek School in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood, described how the Be’eri program instilled her with a new sense of pride, "licensing" her to be no less of a Jew than one who believes in G-d. "Our ancient history and stories from the Mishna belong to me too. I am part of them, and they are a part of me. I can take pride in learning and teaching them", she said.

Next year, more than 150 educators will participate in training. More than 60 educators will study in municipal programs. Hundreds more will participate in one-day seminars. The Experiential Jewish Education track will grow as we move the Jewish culture dialogue from the classroom to the wider community through initiatives such as the partnership with the Israeli Scouts (see article on page 4).

The Be’eri team is looking back at 5775 with a great sense of accomplishment. Participant feedback was excellent and we are gearing up for the coming year. We are excited to report that Dr. Channa Pinchasi, who served as director of the School’s Jerusalem branch in the 2014-15 academic year, will become National Director of the Be’eri School for Teacher Education, responsible for all three campuses. 

"On a personal note, I feel honored to be part of a team dealing with the challenges of Judaism in the 21st century," said Dr. Pinchasi. "I am deepening my involvement in these programs and taking on this new role with a great sense of responsibility. I feel that I have a mission and an obligation to broaden the circles in which the Jewish-Israeli discussion takes place. Be’eri, an essential component of the Israeli Jewish renewal movement, empowers educators to participate in honest and complex dialogue, which touches the lives and Jewish identities of their students. I wish myself and all of us much luck in the coming year." 

Igal Jusidman, CEO of Keren Daniel and Chair of the Be’eri Steering Committee said at this year’s graduation ceremony: "The Hartman Institute and the Be’eri program make Jewish-Israeli identity relevant to our everyday lives. To me, that is what makes all the difference. We don’t have to live Jewish lives because our fathers did so. We have to understand how our Judaism can make us better people, and make our lives more meaningful. By expressing my opinion, and hearing those of others I can learn that not everyone sees the world as I do, and that is alright. That is where pluralism comes in." 

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