Israeli Studies at The Rashi School
From their first to their last days at Rashi, students engage in meaningful learning about Israel, from geography to culture to politics and leadership.
Israel must play a central role in a Jewish independent school education. In fact, we must make Israel as real a place and as close to our hearts as our own home country. In each grade, our students learn about Israel and the study of the land has been specially emphasized as a result of our recent curricular review in Social Studies. From their first to their last days at Rashi, students engage in meaningful learning about Israel, from geography to culture to politics and leadership.
The first grade curriculum places special emphasis on Israel learning, and often integrates it into social studies and science lessons. When students learn about American heroes, they simultaneously learn about Israeli heroes including archaeologist Yigal Yadin and Prime Minister Golda Meir. They compare Israel’s Prime Minister to the President of the United States. As they experience and study the seasons in Massachusetts, they track the seasons in Israel, as well. And, most thrilling to the students, they create an enormous map of Israel, then invite community members who have lived in Israel to visit the map, identify their homes, and teach about life in that part of Israel.
In anticipation of their trip to Israel, eighth graders learn about the Jewish homeland throughout their final year at Rashi. The social studies curriculum guides students to explore the genesis of the modern State of Israel, from Herzl’s initial vision of “The Jewish State” to the main political and physical battles surrounding the founding of the state. In Jewish Studies, students explore the website Israel21C.org which contains thousands of articles “uncovering the country’s rich and diverse culture, innovative spirit, wide-ranging contributions to humanity, and democratic civil society.” Students chose one story that interested them and created Google Slides presentations to share with their fellow classmates what they learned. Finally, they presented their stories to one another and voted on “The Best of Israel21C.” The assignment proved to be an effective means of introducing students to stories about Israel that do not necessarily appear in the news.
Though our learning about Israel at Rashi is strong, it can always become stronger, and we are currently exploring ways to incorporate Israel even more deeply into student learning and life.