The schools that opt for School Twinning & Partnerships as an Israel Education strategy are inherently building Jewish Peoplehood into their mission and values. Twinning involves a close, ongoing relationship between an American school and an Israeli one—with shared, integrated curricula involving many, if not all, grades. Partnerships constitute a less involved relationship, whereby the schools (or classes) work together on a specific shared project.
Both strategies are resource intensive, including the amount of time and effort required to establish matches between schools, to make sure they are a good fit for each other, and then curricularizing the school twinning or partnership relationship.
It is possible for American schools to twin or partner with Israeli ones without the involvement of travel for students and teachers, but most schools opting for these strategies (especially Twinning) do include a travel component. While Web-based communications technology can certainly be effectively used to have classes “meet” and work together on projects and shared curriculum, there is really no substitute for in-person encounters (Mifgashim). Peoplehood as a strategy tends to work best when American students and teachers actually spend time with their Israeli counterparts, getting to know one another’s families, schools and home surroundings.
In person meetings, and coordinating work between teachers from the American and Israeli schools, is crucial to the success of this strategy. Teachers get together and work with one another on trips to Israel and the U.S., but also do so continuously via email, videoconferencing, and other technological means to integrate curriculum, execute joint projects in the schools, and keep the relationships between the American students and their Israeli counterparts strong.
The financial expense (related primarily to travel between the U.S. and Israel for students and teachers) involved in the Twinning & Partnership strategies must also be considered, as the school will need to develop a strong sustainability plan to enable this kind of resource-intensive approach to continue beyond the initiative’s initial funding.
While the Curriculum Specialist and Manchim work with the schools on their big-picture Israel Education curricular goals (scope and sequence, curricular units), the Israel Travel & Twinning Specialist helps them with the more granular work of translating those meta-goals into detailed lesson plans, travel itineraries, and encounter activities. Emphasis is put on both formal and informal education approaches.
The most crucial aspect of this work with Israel Travel & Twinning Specialist is in ascertaining that all aspects of the twinning relationship, including the trips to Israel for both students and teachers, are closely integrated in to the school’s curriculum at all grade levels. Israel Education through this strategy must permeate life and curriculum in all classes—even when only one grade actually travels to Israel, or gets to host a visiting delegation of Israeli students. Similarly, all teachers must be aware of what the strategy means for the school’s overall curriculum, even if only certain faculty members actually get to go on the Israel trip or be part of the faculty teams that participate directly in exchange or encounters with teachers from Israeli schools.
"Jewish Peoplehood Education," was authored by Dr. David Mittelberg and provide a theoretical framework to approach themes of Peoplehood in the context of relationship between Jewish communities.
“The Power, Potential and Promise of Peoplehood Partnership Between Schools,” authored by Dr. David Mittleberg, provides a comprehensive look at Twinning and Partnerships.
This BASIS Summer Forum Presentation provides a look at strategy, and evaluation:
Testimonies and examples for projects from some of the participating schools:
- BHDS Testimonial
- Hausner Student Reflects on Twinning
- Hausner Teacher Reflects on Twinning
- Yavneh Project
For more about School Twinning and Partnerships: