Thursday, January 28, 2010

Becoming Better Teachers at the Sands of Nitzan

Orot has always considered field trips an integral part of teacher training, founded upon the basis of "ארץ ישראל על פי תורת ישראל" - “Eretz Yisrael in accordance with Torat Yisrael”. Orot realizes that for graduates to effectively communicate a love of the Land to their own students, they must invest their time and energy acquiring knowledge of the Land and appreciation for it.
We believe that a student that experiences preparation and guidance of a field trip will regard the issue of field trips as a school teacher in a different way from a teacher who didn't have the same experience. For this reason, as part of their educational program, all Orot students participate in a number of yearly tiyulim, giving them a deeper and broader appreciation for the Land of Israel.
These college-wide field trips represent a unique phenomenon in the world of teacher training in Israel and are led by first-year students (with the help of 2nd and 3rd year students) in the Department of Eretz Yisrael Studies, who invest great effort preparing to guide their fellow students during the tiyul. Watching students integrate with each-other and their instructors while travelling the land and learning from fellow students brings Orot’s administration great pride.

Trip to the Sands of Nitzanim
A month ago, about 350 students of Orot visited the sands of Nitzanim, located along Israel’s coastal plain along the Mediterranean between Ashkelon and Ashdod. Nitzanim is close to Nitzan, a town where some of the former Gush-Katif families reside following their uprooting four years ago.
The tour began with a history of Nitzanim during the War of Independence, when it served as a critical strategic Israeli stronghold. Although ultimately abandoned, Israeli forces at Nitzan succeeded in stopping the Egyptian troops advance to the North, preventing them from conquering the coastal plain and the Tel-Aviv area. The students then visited the residents of the nearby Yishuv Nitzan, hearing the sad and moving story of the uprooting of Gush Katif.
After the stop at Nitzan, the students proceeded to the sands of Nitzanim, beginning with its fascinating and historical cemetery. They continued to the west to the sand dunes, one of the last and largest remnants of Israel's coastal sand dunes with its attendant animal and plant life. They then enjoyed a two-hour hike through the sands to the sea-shore.
This trip to a site close to the center of Israel, combined history related to the founding of the State of Israel, the story of the Gush Katif expulsion and physical exercise through the sand dunes, to produce a wonderful, educational experience that not only enhanced our students’ year, but will make them better teachers as well.

Israeli Filmmaker Speaks to Orot's Film Students

Director and scriptwriter Shoshi Greenfield recently joined the students and faculty of Orot's Department of Communication Studies for a discussion of her film, "The Rebellious Son."
The well-received film, screened in community centers and theaters across Israel, tells the story of Greenfield's brother, a "hilltop youth" coping with the pulls of Israeli life and family and social pressure, all while trying to integrate these into a religious and Zionistic worldview. In addition to the personal story about her brother and his struggles, the film presents a unique perspective on the nuanced and complex relationships between Jews and Arabs, the settlers and the state, and between the founding generation of the settlements and the generation that grew up there.
After a screening of the film, the director told her personal story upon which she based the script and explained some technical aspects of the film's production. She described some of the challenges of producing a feature film, as well as some of the techniques that would be useful to students creating their own films.
Students currently studying in Orot's Department of Communication Studies found the meeting with the scriptwriter important for their practical training. "She had a lot of courage to do this production, and it was important to hear from her how she overcame the challenges that arose during productions. As someone studying communications she represents a model to emulate."
To learn more about "The Rebellious Son" visit the film's website.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Orot Graduation Celebrates 104 New Teachers

Orot awarded B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) degrees to over one hundred students at a recent graduation ceremony held in mid November. The graduates, who entered the auditorium to the sounds of a Turkish Marsh, were welcomed excitedly by excited parents, husbands, extended families, as well as Orot faculty members who came to honor the graduates.
Guest of honor Prof. Amos Altschuler, chairman of the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, delivered a talk on the subject of "What Can be Done with a Triangle that Doesn't Exist?" Orot President Rabbi Prof. Neria Gutel welcomed the graduates, their guests and families, and congratulated the graduates, wishing them success in the field of teaching.
The graduates also received congratulations from Rabbi Noah Greenfeld, director of the teacher training department in the Ministry of Education, Rabbi Haim Fogel, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Prof. Elazar Tuitou, Vice-Chairman of the Academic Committee.
A graduate representative delivered a dvar Torah and expressed her thanks on behalf of the graduates, after which the graduates received their diplomas.

Growth Through Adversity - Thoughts for Parshat Shemot

Devar Torah by Rabbi Reuven Spolter
Director of Recruiting and Special Projects

Here in Israel, communities tend to segregate themselves voluntarily. Chareidim like to live with fellow Chareidim, Secular Jews live with other Secular Jews, and Religious Zionists build communities with like-minded RZ's. We don't mix very much. We tell ourselves that we do this for our children. After all, what could be bad about living in a community that meticulously adheres to the Shabbat? Why not choose to live in a place without the enticements of the outside world? What's wrong with insularity?

And yet - the facts don't seem to justify our choices. Speaking anecdotally, it's well-known here in Israel that many of the most religious yishuvim struggle with children who question and abandon their religiosity. So is our desire for uniformity and insularity necessarily a good thing? Or are we somehow doing more harm than good?

Click here to read Rav Spolter's full article.