One of the lessons learned from the enthusiasm of secular high school teachers to adopt the innovative Be’eri Tarbut Yisrael (Jewish heritage) curricula; and from the success of these highly-relevant curricula in the schools is that now is the time to begin re-addressing antiquated approaches to Bible study. Primed with the infrastructure to create new Bible study curricula and to introduce it to relevant teaching staff, the Be’eri team hosted a seminar in December 2010 on the theme of “Teaching Bible in Israeli Society," organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Education Bible studies supervisor. The goal of this day-long seminar, attended by approximately 200 teachers from Be’eri and non-Be’eri schools throughout the country—many of whom were encountering the Shalom Hartman Institute for the first time—was to stimulate discussion regarding the need to refresh Bible instruction training methods in the secular public school system. The impressive level of attendance and the positive response of the attendees testified to their desire to learn, to be inspired, and to delve into new ideas for Bible studies.
The day began with an address by Professor Yair Zakowitz, the Bible studies supervisor at the Ministry of Education. The teachers then had the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops led by SHI faculty members Roni Magidov and Ariel Aviv; as well as Be’eri municipal facilitators Itay Yavin, Yaakov Livneh, Yael Gruss Rosen, and Yoram Galili. The event closed with a lecture by Professor Avigdor Shinan, author, researcher, and a major player in the development of Jewish heritage studies.
The next open seminar day, planned for the beginning of April, will be devoted to Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers). The goal of this day will be to expose the community of teachers to chapters from the new Shalom Hartman Institute Pirkei Avot textbook for the first time. This textbook, which will be published in time for the start of the 2011-2012 school year, responds to the new Ministry of Education’s decision to make Pirkei Avot part of standard eighth grade curriculum.
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