Research has indicated an increasing alienation among young American Jews from Israel.[1]  Many factors contribute to this trend.  Effective Israel education, which seeks to create a personal relationship between the learner and Israel, aims at reversing that trend.

A review of the state of Israel education revealed that Israel educational efforts could benefit from a more rigorous approach, a more sophisticated pedagogical foundation, updated and high-quality curricular materials, enhancement of knowledge and skills of educators, more creative educational strategies inside and outside the classroom, and greater clarity in purpose, focus, and methods.

While we found much room for improvement in Israel education generally, we must add that several schools were already excelling in this field – and were creating opportunities for students to develop a personal and meaningful relationship with Israel.  And yet, we found that even the best performing schools could benefit from a more comprehensive approach to Israel education.

BASIS was conceived as an experiment – what if we created the infrastructure, educational leadership, expertise, and support services to create and sustain effective Israel education?  Would it have an impact?  Would it succeed in creating a personal relationship between the learner and Israel?  Could Israel education, done well, address the growing distancing of America Jewish students from Israel?

BASIS emerged as a collaboration, among a visionary foundation, a central agency for Jewish education, and eleven day schools who agreed to serve as a test bed for this experiment.  It had four overriding goals for four distinct audiences:

  • Provide students with experiences in the classroom and in Israel to develop a better understanding and connection to Israel;
  • Provide the necessary professional development for teachers enabling them to implement a comprehensive Israel education program;
  • Formalize and institutionalize a program of Israel education at the school level;
  • Enhance the capacity of the central agency for Jewish education to support day schools in delivery of effective programs of Israel education.

 


[1] Cohen and Kelman, Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation from Israel,2007, and Phillips, Splitting the Difference and Moving Forward with the Research, 2009