By Howie Gordon, School Twinning Coordinator,Hartuv Elementary School
The School Twinning (Gesher Chai) program was introduced to our Partnership area of Mateh Yehuda and Beit Shemesh in 2009. It was then that we educators from schools in this area participated in an educational seminar run at Bet Hatfusoth. It was there that we met our overseas counterparts to start working together, communicating with each other to embark on a joint venture. This joint venture aims to build a living bridge between our school communities.
With this in mind a delegation of six educators from the Ministry of Education embarked on a once in a lifetime experience to meet the Jewish Communities of Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa during the second week of August 2010.
The delegation consisted of School Inspectress, Ina Zaltzman, Sharon Shani, principal (on Sabbatical) of" "Hartuv Elementary School" and teachers, Howie Gordon and Tali Aharon.
"Ein Kerem" Junior High school sent teachers Ruthie Goldstein and Deborah Segev. The delegation was expertly coordinated by Sonia Shurhavetsky who works for Partnership 2000 as the Projects Manager
The purpose of this delegation was one of peoplehood and identity. Our aim was to meet our counterparts in South Africa, the principal and staff of "King David Linksfield Primary School" who at present are twinning with "Hartuv Elementary School", and the principal and staff of Herzilya Middle school who are twinning with Ein kerem Junior High School in order to continue the process we started over a year ago. Throughout the year, the schools have been in contact working on educational projects together. This visit helped to strengthen our existing bonds.
The delegation also met other Jewish day schools in the hope to find more partners to join our venture and in doing so, to widen and strengthen the bridges between our communities.
Interspersed between the school visits, the delegation was treated to some real South Africa hospitality, including a trip to the Lion Park, a visit to the local markets, and breathtaking tours of Table Mountain and Cape Point. We still wonder how one concentrates at the Middle School at Herzliya, with such a majestic backdrop of Table Mountain.
The delegation was fortunate to visit various Jewish communal institutions to try and understand the life of the Jewish community in the Diaspora.
Following the success of the tour, a reciprocal visit and seminar have been planned for educators from South Africa and Washington for the summer of 2011. They will arrive in our region for a week. They will tour the schools and they will get to see our communities. Other schools that are already participating in the School Twinning project will also be involved in this seminar: Jabotinsky School, Hartuv High School and Uziel School.
The teachers returned full of motivation and gusto to start the new year. Preparations are already underway and emails have been flying back and forth as we reconnect with our old partners and we connect afresh with our newly found partners and friends.
Thank you Partnership 2000 for an amazing and educational experience.