Jul 14, 2021

The iCenter’s Master’s Concentration in Israel Education Brings Together Graduate Students from Different Programs to Gain New Approaches to Engage Learners in Israel Experiences

Graduate students in Jewish education, rabbinic studies, non-profit management, and other aligned fields from 13 different universities in North America and Israel are learning new approaches and skills to bring dynamic Israel experiences to their learners through The iCenter’s Master’s Concentration in Israel Education. Haifa University’s Ruderman Program is the newest institution to join the program, enabling its graduate students to join the next generation of knowledgeable and passionate educational leaders committed to the integral role of Israel in contemporary Jewish life.

“The human connection in the program, especially this year, was really important,” says Ofer Chizik of the Ruderman Program at Haifa University who is earning his Master’s Degree in Jewish American Studies. “I’ve built friendships and learned with other leaders who bring both similar and different perspectives on Jewish values and peoplehood—it’s a very powerful experience.”

The students represent different Jewish denominations and a diversity of opinions, but they come together as a cohesive group within the Master’s Concentration based on a shared commitment and passion to Jewish education and to Israel. The program integrates rigorous academic study, ongoing mentorship, learning opportunities in Israel, and creation of a final Israel education project, which students present. Throughout the year, 12 seminar days provide the opportunity for students to examine the core issues of the field, including various approaches to Israel education and its fundamental principles.

“The program is a very Israel-forward space,” adds Marlene Artov, who is earning her Master’s in Public Administration at the NYU Wagner School.  “We don’t all have to agree, but when the goal is to elevate Israel educational experiences based on strengthening people’s connection to Israel, then we as educators can have conversations about different ways to approach that goal.”

Marlene and Ofer speak once a week now, sharing what they learned from the program and what they are learning in their respective universities. Along with their fellow cohort members, they have unprecedented access to a national network of experts in the field. For students who have spent years studying the work of these leading thinkers—many of whom are pioneers in the field—the opportunity to engage with them directly is a key component of the educational experience.  When they graduate, they will join an alumni community that ensures an ongoing framework in which graduates share ideas, resources, experiences, and work in the field over the years to come.

“We’re working to create systemic change in how Israel education is defined, approached, and integrated into every area of Jewish education throughout North America,” adds Rachel See, who oversees the iFellows program. “As our youngest learners come of age in what can be a challenging environment around Israel, this work of building meaningful relationships with Israel and Israelis is more timely and urgent than ever.”