KKL-JNF Educators Study Tour 2020

In January 2020, The KKL-JNF Overseas Education and Community Division hosted the third annual seminar for Australian educators, with the participation of seventy-five school principals, teachers and other educators from twenty-seven different schools. For most of the participants, this was their first visit to Israel. 

The group spent ten touring the country from the Golan Heights to the Arava. They got to know Israel’s diverse landscapes, culture, and people through visits to educational institutions, in-depth lectures and discussion groups, and fascinating encounters with local teachers and students.They also learned about some of KKL-JNF’s work dedicated to the development of the land and its communities, including numerous projects in which JNF Australia is an active partner. The program was designed to give educators engaging tools to strengthen the younger generation’s connection to the land, people, state, and heritage of Israel.

Click on the day-by-day itinerary below to see pictures and learn more about this trip:

  • Day 1: Dec 31, 2019 - Educators from New Zealand and Australia Learn about Israel with KKL-JNF

    “It’s important to us to deepen our understanding of our Jewish pupils’ background.”
    (Dee Pitcairn, Principal of Reddam House Primary School, Sydney)

    At a moving opening ceremony at the Shuni Field and Forest Center in the Jabotinsky Park, each participant planted a tree in honor of their school, and the group saw how an ancient  site is used today as a base for youth to strengthen their identification with the land and history of Israel.

    The group continued to the Jordan River Village for children suffering from serious illness and physical disabilities. They toured the multi-sensory science garden supported by JNF Australia and participated in educational activities designed to strengthen the link between Diaspora youth and Israel.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 2: Jan 1, 2020 - Zionism & Nature in Northern Israel

    “No matter how many times you come to visit, you always discover something new.”
    (Ariella Gabbay, Teacher, Belview Hill School, Sydney)

    On the second day of their trip, the educators experienced the transformative spirituality of the mystical city of Tzfat, one of Israel’s four ancient holy cities and the capital of the Upper Galilee. They continued to the Golan Heights for a geopolitical jeep ride of the region with breathtaking panoramic views and tours of historic battle sites.

    At Hula Lake Park, one of the world’s leading ornithological sites, they observed some of nature’s wonders and learned about KKL-JNF’s role in rehabilitating the site. They returned to Tzfat for a joyful evening of folk music and dancing, rounding out a day rich with spirituality, history, ecology, and culture.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 3: Jan 2, 2020 - A Visit to Educational Institutions in the Lower Galilee

    “The situation in Israel is very complex, but it is inspiring to see how people live here side by side and accept all members of other religions.”
    (Robyn Grana, Masada College, Sydney)

    The group spent the day meeting with local educators and visiting unique educational institutions in the Misgav region, including those supported by JNF Australia. They learned about diverse educational initiatives, including a coexistence program for Jewish and Arab seniors, a women’s empowerment program for the Bedouin community, and an educational center dedicated to cultivating leadership skills among youth in the periphery.

    Through participating in original KKL-JNF activities, the educators acquired new tools that they can implement in their schools back home, including workshops and games about Israeli art, innovation and the connection between Hebrew language and culture. They learned about collaborative educational projects between the communities in Israel and Australia that aim to strengthen the connection between Diaspora youth and the land, heritage and people of Israel.

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  • Day 4: Jan 3, 2020 - Australian Educators Bond with Jerusalem Throughout the Millennia

    “In other places you look with your eyes; in Jerusalem you look with your heart.”
    (Jenny Glazer, St. Ives School, Sydney)

    The group journeyed to Jerusalem, the heart and soul of the Jewish people from ancient times until today. They learned about the significance of the Holy City to the world’s major religions at the sacred sites of the Mount of Olives, the City of David, and the Western Wall, and they followed in the footsteps of the IDF soldiers who liberated the city in the 1967 Six Day War.

    Many of the participants were profoundly moved by the feeling of coming home and the palpable spirituality they experienced throughout their time in Jerusalem, including an unforgettable Shabbat.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 5: Jan 4, 2020 - An Israeli Shabbat in Jerusalem

    Heroism, determination and loyalty are values not only for soldiers, but for all human beings, including you and your students.”
    (Alon Wald of Ammunition Hill)

    The group enjoyed a magical Shabbat in Jerusalem, participating in the special rituals of the day, such as candle-lighting, prayer services, and festive meals with traditional songs, moving stories, and Torah learning. Following the conclusion of Shabbat on Saturday evening, they visited Ammunition Hill, where they paid their respects to the heroic soldiers who fell in the battle for Jerusalem in the Six Day War, learned about the Israeli spirit of courage and determination, and ended the night with spirited music, song, and Israeli folk dancing.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 6: Jan 5, 2020 - Jewish Survival and Revival: From Yad Vashem to the Gaza Envelope

    “I feel that the story of the Jewish people mingles with my personal familial story.”
    (Yehuda Kaplan, Victorian School of Languages, Melbourne)

    The second week of the study tour began at the National Institutions Building, continuing on to Yad Vashem, the Nes Harim Field and Forest Educational Center, and the communities of the Gaza border region. The group learned about the role of international Zionist institutions in the development of Israel from the first stages of the country’s formation up until the present day. They mourned the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and discussed how to transmit the important messages of these horrific events to the youth of today.

    In a journey of resilience and rebuilding, the group visited educational and ecological projects in the volatile southern region, marveling at the resolve of the families living in the constant shadow of rocket fire. In profound encounters with local educators and leaders, they discussed the unique challenges of educating children in these conditions, as well as many of their shared experiences and values.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 7: Jan 6, 2020 - The Unique Challenges and Successes of Living in the Negev

    “It’s impressive that there are Jewish pioneers who are willing to live here. They are doing this for the sake of all of us.”
    (Rabbi Yossi Friedman, Mount Sinai College and Maroubra Synagogue, Sydney)

    The group spent the day delving into the complex challenges of life in the Negev, including a security briefing at the Black Arrow Memorial and encounters with kibbutz members and leaders at Kibbutz Kfar Aza. They visited educational institutions in the region where they got a first-hand impression of the local education system from local teachers and students.

    At the new sustainability center in the Bedouin city of Rahat, the visiting teachers learned how Bedouin teachers hope that education will help the youth transform their community. They also participated in discussion groups in Beersheba, where Bedouin and Jewish teachers debated the challenges of educating students from differing cultural backgrounds. Finally, the group visited the ANZAC Memorial Center, where they learned about the seminal role played by ANZAC soldiers in conquering Beersheba for the British in WWI.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 8: Jan 7, 2020 - Thinking Outside the Box in the Negev

    “We met people that want to grow together and create something new for future generations.”
    (Max Agapitos, Moriah College, Sydney )

    The eighth day of the seminar revealed how Israel has fulfilled David Ben Gurion’s dream of building a thriving settlement in the arid Negev Desert. The group visited impressive initiatives and met with dedicated individuals who exemplify how anything is possible with faith and willpower. They toured KKL-JNF’s water conservation project at the Besor Reservoirs, heard about collaborative educational projects from local leaders and educators, and saw how Israel is using innovative technologies to harness renewable energies at the Ashalim Solar Power Station.

    The group visited the green oasis of Nizana, where youth from  diverse backgrounds come together to participate in workshops, educational activities and desert trips exploring different aspects of Zionism, ecology, and the desert. After an enlightening visit to the Ramon Air Force Base, the group finished the day with a visit to the humble home of David Ben Gurion in Sde Boker.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 9: Jan 8, 2020 - Education, Zionism, and Agriculture in the Arava

    “It’s very impressive to see how water is taken advantage of in the Arava for desert agriculture.”
    (Niall Gilhooly, Emanuel School, Sydney)

    The group experienced the depth of Israel’s resourcefulness in the Arava, where they met modern-day pioneers who have devoted their lives to making the desert bloom, both literally and figuratively.

    They toured the agricultural R&D center at the Vidor Center, worked in the fields at the Bein Hashitin Farm, which runs educational Zionist programs for youth, and met with students from developing countries at the Arava International Center for Agricultural Training. Throughout the day, they visited many sites supported by KKL-JNF and JNF Australia.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

  • Day 10: Jan 9, 2020 - Israel - The Real Story

    “As educators we are used to investing in our students, and it feels special to take part in a seminar where we are the ones being taught.”
    (Rabbi Yossi Friedman, Mount Sinai College and Maroubra Synagogue, Sydney)

    The final day of the study tour began on Masada, where the group learned how the dramatic story behind this site has become a symbol of freedom and determination in Zionist heritage. The group continued to the Ayalon Institute in Rehovot, home to a clandestine weapons factory operated by the Haganah prior to the establishment of the state. At the de Shalit High School in Rehovot, the educators met students and teachers and heard about the historic past and present activities of the school, which served as the command post of the Australian Cavalry during WWI.

    After ten jam-packed days touring the country, visiting impressive sites, and meeting with inspirational people, the participants came away with a strengthened connection to the land, people, and story of Israel, and many new educational tools and ideas to share with their students back home.

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    Photo by: Yoav Devir

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