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Once again it's the "people-to-people" aspect of Partnership 2000 that makes the difference, at least for the Modi'in Rochester connection. Maayan Sahar, grade eight teacher from Modi'in and part of the Education Bridge delegation to Rochester in October 2008, said of her week-long visit, "Talking to people here in Rochester has been most profound for me. I now know I have a big role in the Bridge."
It's getting together and experiencing each other's Judaism directly that provides the context to the work of the Bridge - the sharing of curricula, classroom strategies and relationships between educators and students - year long. Galit Kohen, Modi'in teacher of grade two, remarked on how exciting it is to meet Jewish people who do so much to maintain their Judaism. "Even with difficulty with the Hebrew language, the students here still pray in Hebrew. I saw in Sherry's [Yerger] class passion in trying to read Hebrew… Each person chooses the right way for him/herself. One does not need to live in Israel to be Jewish."
The visit was packed with opportunities to experience the Rochester Jewish community and connect with education bridge partners. The Israelis met with their "matches" and hosts, visited multiple synagogues and religious schools, attended workshops and a mifgash to share strategies and challenges, visited other Jewish institutions like the Summit (independent living for seniors), and more. Of course a trip to Niagara Falls was a "must" as was shopping for families back home. The relationships that formed among the delegation and their host families were another highlight for all.
Anat Levy, elementary English teacher, explained the impact of the visit to Rochester this way. "Seeing what I did makes me aware of my own obligation to make Judaism maintain itself. I will explore with Lou [Spiro] holidays in both places and will speak with colleagues. You [in Rochester] give me strength to be an Israeli because you struggle to be Jews."
In turn, the Rochester Education Bridge partners see their concerns in a new light. Leslie Crane, Rochester Co-chair with Sherry Goldstein, notes that "this is our opportunity to see our own dilemmas." For one, resources to bring Israel into Rochester classrooms are limited. Despite this, according to Sherry, "we should be thinking about Israel all the time in our religious schools. One of the goals of the Education Bridge is to bring Israel in the classrooms this year and into the hearts of the children."
The Bridge will continue to go from strength to strength thanks to the efforts of Sherry and Leslie, their Modi'in volunteer counterpart Yehuda Gohar; and Modi'in coordinator Aviva Dvir and Rochester coordinator Jan Katz. Many thanks to all our Rochester hosts and to everyone who contributed to making this a terrific visit.
Read the beautiful poem of farewell and gratitude read at the closing of the final dinner at the home of Howard and Leslie Crane, October 29th. Click here.
Introductions at the Federation
An art workshop for Rochester and Modi'in educators
Closing dinner at the home of Howard and Leslie Crane