From the desk of the Director of Jewish Interactive
It’s a busy time in the Jewish calendar and soon after Yom Kippur is Sukkot, the festival of happiness ‘Zman simchateinu’. As Jewish educators we often spend time teaching our students about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – and just do not have the time to focus on teaching the beauty and depth of Sukkot. Jewish Interactive (JI) has created a game called Sukkah Challenge for your students. The students can play the game online at home as a flipped classroom and even if you do not manage to spend time teaching Sukkot – you know that they have spent time preparing for Sukkot.
JI is very busy creating an interactive Jewish calendar that you will be able to use as a resource to guide your students through the Jewish year and bring it alive. We have written a spiral curriculum from grades 1-6 with varying levels and depths of learning. It should serve as a universal platform to cater for the needs of the Jewish spectrum. We have over 30 lessons planned in this program. JI is slowly creating each digital, interactive lesson. This Sukkot module ‘Building a Sukkah’ will eventually be one of the modules within the framework of the calendar. We have Disney animators working on characters and curriculum professionals guiding the process. This is just a taste of what is to come.
I attended a meeting at Avi Chai Foundation in May 2012 with a variety of Jewish online service providers and leaders of Jewish day schools and organisations. This dynamic group of Jewish leaders is trying to establish the future of online Jewish learning. It was very clear from the schools that Jewish schools want a blended learning model moving forward with digital components and traditional face–to–face teaching. Programs need to be modular and give educators flexibility to choose what to teach at the levels they want and be able to adjust content for their needs. The content must be well planned, easy to use and built into a logical framework. Material needs to be content-rich yet allow for the students to actively learn and create their own content based on their active learning.
JI is trying to build all these aspects into future programs and is writing an elementary curriculum map for all online available material. The Jewish world is working hard to put Judaism online and create apps that can compete with secular products. Dr. Eliezer Jones from Yeshiva University has started a course on Instructional design for Jewish educators and we look forward to seeing the fruits of this excellent program.
A few months ago I was speaking to Lynn Schusterman, a generous Jewish philanthropist with a massive heart. I asked her why she does what she does for the Jewish world. She told me ‘I care so much, I care so so much.’
I have been working establishing Jewish Interactive and spent copious amounts of time building up an amazing passionate JI team, network of schools, educators and children, developing a production house of online materials and building partnerships with Jewish organisations. I have spent years establishing a dream that we can be just a small part of the global Jewish leaders making Judaism meaningful for our Jewish children. In my crazy schedule whilst running a home and trying, like all other moms, to be a good mom to my B’H 3 children, I often ask myself – “why am I doing this??”
My answer is always the same – just like Lynn’s answer – “because I care so so so much, to the depth of my soul, that there is a vibrant Jewish future, and our children are our future! And as Lynn says ‘unless someone like you cares an awful lot it is not going to happen, it’s not‘.
I ask all educators, parents and children to join us. Enter our digital competitions and become development partners with us. Please send us feedback on our programs, let us know what you want to see in the curriculum, what your children need and as parents, how can we help you and support you in giving your children an inspiring Jewish education.