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by Rhonda Spivak Aug 9, 2018

Lori Binder, CEO and Head of School at Gray Academy of Jewish Education says she "was thrilled to be selected to attend the First Global Jewish Education Summit in Israel and represent Gray Academy of Jewish Education along with Joyce Kerr, elementary Principal." Binder and Kerr were among 150 participants at the summit from over 30 countries, with only three other Canadians participating. The purpose of the conference was "to shape the future of Jewish education around the world and how future generations will view the Jewish state," according to the Jerusalem Post.


The summit participants were given a survey and the three main challenges in Jewish education cited from the survey were as follows 1.Greater supply of  professional Jewish educational teachers are needed 2.  Resources/professional development are required 3. Perceived quality and esteem accorded to the Jewish educator and Jewish education. As Binder explained, the third challenge  "is the need for a higher profile to be afforded to Jewish Day Schools in communities across the Diaspora." Binder noted that at the Summit there were " Round Table Discussions on common challenges in Jewish Education around the globe. Challenges include affordability, and access to professional development for Judaic Studies and Hebrew."


Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennet spoke at the summit about the urgent need to strengthen the bond between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora, thanking the educators for being a living bridge between Israel and the Diaspora.


Binder said of the summit that "The opportunity to invest time to be part of the dialogue of the future of Jewish Education in the Diaspora was humbling and inspiring. I believe that Gray Academy, despite its location in the heart of the Canadian Prairies, is strengthened by our connections to other Jewish Day schools throughout North America through our Prizmah network. The opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from throughout the Diaspora including South Africa, Ukraine, Brazil, Mexico, Switzerland and more, helps to inspire a new conversation that goes to the essence of Jewish Education and the strength and permanence of our work in our communities and our connection to Israel. I am grateful to Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs for recognizing the importance of bringing Jewish educational leaders together to begin to explore new paradigms that link Israel in a new way with Israel now investing in the Diaspora."


Joyce Kerr said the three day summit had great impact on her."It allowed Jewish educators from around the world to have time to hear about Israel’s commitment to Jewish education in the diaspora as well as give time for Jewish educational leaders to bring common challenges and strengths to the table. The concentration of commitment to learning the Hebrew language and Judaic Studies in all its components was felt by all countries represented.  We are educators who are committed to teaching our students at the highest level no matter where we live."


As part of the summit Kerr chose to go on a field trip to Ha-Shomer Ha-chadash, an agricultural site/program close to Hadera that facilitates programs for anyone 8 to 80. The mission of the program is to encourage people to work the land, work together and make connections - not just to the land of Israel but with each other."


Kerr added "I had the opportunity to make mud bricks for the soon to be new walls of a kitchen they are building. Who knew that 2 buckets of mud+ 2 buckets of sand + 2 big handfuls of straw all mixed together would be the makings of bricks for a kitchen. Basic materials and cooperation lead to learning and building a community."


Kerr concluded "I am grateful that I was part of this first Jewish Educators  Global Summit. We are educators, parents and community members and we have a responsibility to teach, facilitate and pass on our knowledge and passions to the next generations."


Binder noted that the Opening Reception of the Summit was at President Rivlin’s Residence "The President opened the Summit with words of gratitude for the work of Diaspora Jewish schools and the commitment of the Israeli Government to now invest and support the Diaspora community through education. The goal of the Summit was to help them answer the question as to how to do that."


Binder and Kerr's attendance at the summit was supported by a the Ministry of the Diaspora, the Pincus Fund and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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