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Avi Posen helps design new program for Jewish schools aiming to enhance students’ knowledge about Israel

Avi Posen in Israel

Gray Academy to participate, along with five other schools in Canada
By BERNIE BELLAN

Two weeks ago we received some interesting information from an organization known as “Unpacked for Educators” about a new program designed to help educators in Jewish schools teach about Israel. At the time we received the email we didn’t realize that the individual coordinating the program is none other than Avi Posen, formerly of Gray Academy, now residing in Israel. (You can read about Avi and his wife Ilana’s moving to Israel last year at https://jewishpostandnews.ca/features/3044-gifted-teacher-and-chazan-avi-posen-and-wife-illana-make-aliyah)

Here is the information we received from “Unpacked for Educators”:

Currently, there isn’t one unified, shared language or media in how to approach nuanced, Israel education. Many educators are essentially, in their own silo, left up to their own devices and technological prowess to develop Israel education curricula and coursework to engage and connect with their students. This leads educators to constantly ‘reinvent the wheel’ as they work out the right approach and materials for each and every issue.

To help solve this silo situation, Unpacked for Educators has launched the first of its kind, international, inter-denominational program that includes fifty schools from seven countries across the world: Canada, South Africa, UK, USA, Israel, Hungary, and Australia.
Among the schools participating in the 2020/2021 program are:
• Gray Academy of Jewish Education – Winnipeg
• Bialik High School – Montreal
• Hebrew Academy – Montreal
• Ecole Maimonide – Montreal
• Bnei Akiva Schools (Ulpana – Orot Girls & Yeshivat Or Chaim) – Toronto
• King David High School – Vancouver

The aim of the 2020/2021 Partner-School Program is to strengthen Israel education in Jewish schools around the world. This international community will be at the forefront of digital education, working together to create a shared language for how to teach about Israel. If you’re not familiar, Unpacked for Educators, a division of OpenDor Media, is a leader in digital education and innovation for Israel and Jewish content. The educators in the program will receive complete access to OpenDor Media’s powerful and unique video content in addition to professional development, networking and expert support.

Built to be a virtual network, COVID-19 is not slowing this program down.
Dr. Noam Weissman, senior vice president of OpenDor Media had this to add, “This partner-school program is made up of fifty diverse and forward-thinking Jewish schools across the world. We are providing them with our unique content and far more. Through this partnership program, we are also promoting collaboration, connection, and community — three things that are more important than ever in the current climate.”

The Partner-School Program 2020/2021 will consist of:
• Built-Out Educational Programs with full access to all UED content & resources (including films)
• Professional Development with recurring webinars with Dr. Noam Weissman and other leading experts
• Ongoing Support and communication with our education staff, as much or as little as the school needs
• Exclusive Access to private groups for further collaboration, community building and connection

Further specifics for the regular online meetings, webinars, calls and private Facebook group/WhatsApp group include:
• Expert guest speakers in the world of Israel Education
• Educators in the program presenting their current Israel Education programs.
• Guide and all access pass to over seventy-five videos and supporting educational resources, Kahoot quizzes, discussion questions, reflection questions, experiential learning activities, and more, that Unpacked for Educators has to offer.
• Other topics and more:
• Modeling of healthy debate with presenters on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
• Language and integration
• How to engage with difficult/controversial subjects
• One-to-one consulting & training:
• Work on customized curriculum
• Flipped instruction
• Distance learning

Teachers in Jewish schools often feel isolated when it comes to developing curricula for students that will help them learn about Israel.
One educator in one of “Unpacked for Educators” 50 partner schools in the UK had this to say: “We are very excited to partner with 50 other schools from all over the world. Teaching can often seem very isolating. It becomes all about my class and my school. Collaboration is essential if we truly want the best materials and to create opportunities for our students,” – Rav Rickman, King David High School.
“There are talented educators all over the world, we can now share our expertise and learn from others, to enhance the educational experience we provide.”

As mentioned at the outset to this article, Avi Posen is coordinating the program. Avi contacted me to ask whether I’d be interested in finding out more about “Unpacked for Educators”. I’ll be speaking with Avi on August 12. We will have a full report on our conversation in the August 19 issue of the JP&N.

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Israel

Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive

David Newman (right): David died helping to save the lives of others who were at the music festival on October 7 when Hamas massacred hundreds of attendees

By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.

But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.

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Israel

Our New Jewish Reality

Indigo bookstore in Toronto defaced

By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

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Israel

Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead

Jewish Post & News file photo

Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.

To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333

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