Monthly News from JNF’s Advocacy & Education Department
Shana tova! To welcome 5781, the JNF Israel Advocacy and Education department is excited to announce Ask Herzl: The Premier Online Educational Resource Database. This database will provide you with numerous downloadable lesson plans, activities, workbooks, and videos based around Israel and Judaism, as well as the opportunity to submit your own lesson plans to this ever-growing collection! Read on to get the link to Ask Herzl, as well as updates from the department, and more.
We look forward to working with you this year and providing any support or materials you may need along the way.
Here’s to a happy, sweet, and healthy new year!
The Israel Advocacy & Education Team
Ha-azinu: A Case for Looking at our History and Toward the Future
By Rick Abrams, Israel Programs Admissions Director, NJ and Eastern PA
I love looking at the weekly Torah portion (parashat hashavua). In it, often every Shabbat morning, I have the opportunity to connect with my Jewish past, my current community, and all that I hope for in the future. Some weeks it takes a great deal of effort to find these insights. Not this week!
Ha-azinu, this week’s parashah, is the second to last in the Torah. Moses’ tenure as the leader is coming to an end. In fact, the entire book of D’varim/ Deuteronomy can be viewed as Moses recounting the history of their travels through the wilderness, and a peek into the future in the “Land of Milk and Honey.”
Further, almost all of Ha-azinu is in the form of a poem. Poems are more easily memorized than narrative—this final address of Moses is important, and he wants the lessons in it remembered. And, luckily for me, Ha-azinu includes a couple of verses that absolutely jumped off the page bringing to life the work of the IAE Department and JNF as a whole. The following lines are from the parashah’s introduction:
“Remember the days of old; Understand the years of generations past.”
(Deut. 32: 7)
This verse just may be the “why” for Alexander Muss High School in Israel. “Remember” and “Understand” are two verbs linked to the way AMHSI’s Core Curriculum is taught. Students at AMHSI don’t simply read ancient texts in order to remember them; they are immersed in the texts, traveling all over the land in order to understand 4000+ years of history that links us all to Eretz Yisrael. This curriculum ensures a Jewish future for our country, as moving from remembering to understanding leads to a lifetime of support for Israel.
As to the other verse, Ha-azinu opens with the following introduction by Moses:
“Give ear, heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear (words) from my mouth. May my teaching drop like the rain; My speech flow like the dew.”
Deut. 32: 1-2
The minute I read this I thought of the remarkable innovations that our brothers and sisters in the Arava are inventing to “make the desert bloom”. With the help of JNF-USA, agri-scientists are learning how to bring hydration and irrigation to the parched desert. If Moses’ words can “drop like rain” on the arid generation of the desert travelers, and his speech flows “like the dew” to this community, then innovative scientists can harness the same drops and dew to make the Arava one of Israel’s successful agricultural producing regions.
The founder of modern Chasidism, the Baal Shem Tov, said: Ki ba-zichirah, sod g’ulah!/Remembrance is the secret of redemption! Ha-azinu reminds me that the work of the JNF, through the action areas of Israel Advocacy and Education, and Research and Development, are informing us about our eternal link with the land and people of Israel, and insuring that land be a land of milk and honey.
Ask Herzl: The Premier Online Educational Resource Database
JNF’s Israel Advocacy and Education department is excited to announce our new online educational resource database: Ask Herzl. This collection of educational content provides you and your classroom with downloadable lesson plans, activities, workbooks, and more about Israel and Judaism. From subjects on Yom Ha’azmaut to irrigation in Israel, this ever-growing database will serve as a hub for Jewish educators when they’re in need of creative lesson plans, and will eventually grow to become the premier resource tool for Jewish educators. Be on the lookout for more materials, as well as a video library coming soon! Visit the database at: jnf.org/askherzl.
We invite educators and organizations to contribute educational materials for all ages to Ask Herzl. Be a part of this exciting project by sending your materials to us in a Microsoft Word document to Rafi Glazer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get a 'Box of Israel' from Shorashim
A ‘Box of Israel’ is an educational tool for 3-to-9-year-olds that brings Israel education into your homes or classrooms through games, activities, and materials, giving children the opportunity to connect to Israel.
Activities include personalizing your Passport, pairing Israeli places in a memory game, exploring Israel on a puzzle map, coloring, and more!
For more information, visit https://boxes.shorashim.org/
Purchase one box, or in bulk for your classroom! Use the code JNF2020 at checkout to receive a special discount of $10 off your box, exclusive to the JNF community!
9/11 Living Memorial Ceremony in Florida
In case you missed it, JNF hosted virtual events across the U.S. commemorating 9/11, and honoring the 9/11 Living Memorial Monument in Jerusalem, the only memorial outside the U.S. that includes all the names of the victims of the attack. You can watch a recording of the ceremony here.
AMHSI Alumni Interview: Maxeme "Max" Tuchman
Interview by Jennifer Sosnow, Israel Programs Admissions Director, Arizona
Meet Maxeme “Max” Tuchman – CEO of Caribu, a Harvard graduate, Inc. Magazine Top Female Founder Award winner, and alumna of Alexander Muss High School in Israel.
I had the chance to talk with AMHSI Alumna Maxeme Tuchman, and learn about how her company, Caribu, is changing the landscape in long-distance communication and learning.
Jennifer: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.
Max: My family is from Cuba. As ‘Jewbans’, my family has been fleeing countries for generations. Cuba was our home for a long time, but when things became more difficult to make a living, we found our way to the United States. Education and Judaism were two important pieces that always came with us, no matter where we lived. I grew up with family around me, and retelling our history was part of our tradition. I'm extremely grateful for all of the sacrifices my family made to give me and my sister a better life, so I'm pretty sure I'm an overachiever mainly because I'm trying to not waste the opportunity they've given me.
Jennifer: I’d love to know more about your experience at AMHSI and how it shaped you into the woman you are today.
Max: I went on AMHSI because my best friend was going, and I wanted a country to be my classroom. I love learning and I love traveling – so AMHSI was like a dream come true. I remember the smells, the taste of the food (especially the buckets of Nutella and the milk in a bag!), and the heat… these are all imprinted in my memory. The experiential learning that I received in Israel can never be replaced by a lecture or video. It shaped how I connected the history of the Jewish people to present day. It made me really appreciate our history and definitely helped shape the leader I am today.
Jennifer: I must admit – I am impressed by your accomplishments after following you on LinkedIn. Tell me how you got to where you are today.
Max: As I mentioned, I'm a bit of an overachiever! I have two master’s degrees and was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I was lucky to meet my business partner in an online "founder-dating" website where techies and entrepreneurs can meet. I brought the sales experience and the chutzpa needed to grow the company. Caribu is the world’s first multi-platform video-calling experience for kids and families. We have thousands of books, games and activities that can be shared in a virtual playdate. We even have Jewish recipes, Hebrew songs and more Jewish content like coloring sheets and books about Jewish holidays and heroes.
Jennifer: This sounds incredible! How has Covid-19 impacted your business and your life?
Max: When Covid-19 really hit the US, Caribu grew 10X overnight. I haven't slept since March 14. We are constantly adding new content to our in-app library. Recently we added new content on anti-racism, social-emotional learning, and why we need to wear a mask and stay six feet apart so that families would have relevant and timely books to teach their kids about what's going on in the world around them. Right now, we are also making Caribu free for teachers. We have a lot of interactive educational activities too for any parents that have decided to use Caribu as part of their curriculum at home.
Jennifer: What makes Caribu special?
Max: For me, early childhood education has always been the place where I truly believe we can make the biggest impact. I love that Caribu offers something the world desperately needs now more than ever. We have users in over 200 countries/territories and we even have professional athletes, celebrities, and Grammy-award winning artists using Caribu with their families right now. We offer content in 10 languages and we are always looking to add more. Our platform is secure and safe; no one will unexpectedly join your call on Caribu! The other really cool thing that sets us apart is that each user can be on a different type of device – so if Bubbe has her tablet, but others are joining with phones or PCs the experience will be the same.
Jennifer: What’s next for Max and Caribu?
Max: Global domination! The New York Times is writing about us in the same sentence as Zoom and Houseparty so we're quickly becoming a household name. I am always looking for new, fresh content to add to our library, as well as content written in other languages, so please reach out if you are yourself an author or know someone that would be a great fit for our platform.
Are you an author? Connect with Max, she can be reached at: Max@caribu.com.
If you would like to learn more about Alexander Muss High School in Israel, please see our list of upcoming virtual information sessions at: https://www.amhsi.org/admissions/information-sessions.