By Cindy Mann
For Jewish day schools in the Diaspora, Zionism plays a critical role in the mission and vision of their school and in an effort to bring this vision alive and also fill the needed Hebrew language and Judaic teaching positions, day schools seek out talented Israeli teachers, Shlichim, to join their staff.
On paper, the process feels straightforward: Find a great teacher in Israel, bring them to an American school and they will continue to be a great teacher there.
And yet, the reality is quite different. In meeting school administrators, day school students and their parents and Shlichim themselves I heard frustrations on all sides with the experience. Shlichim shared their feeling unprepared, lacking tools and completely unaware of the kind of communities they had arrived to. School administrators shared their struggle to teach so much about school life and American education in a few short days during staff week in August.
Across The Sea comes to address the needs of schools and Shlichim to help improve the Shaliach experience for everyone – schools, students and the Shlichim themselves. Our work is grounded in two fundamental questions:
- How can we effectively support host school to give the Shlichim the best chance of success?
- How can we support Shlichim to understand and overcome the many cultural and educational gaps between Israeli and American culture and education?
Capitalizing on the springtime when the Shlichim are hired, but still here in Israel, Across The Sea works intensively first getting to know each school and its unique needs and then beginning the process of bringing each Shaliach into the culture and learning of the school, identifying areas of strengths, individual needs and best means of support.
In July, Across The Sea brings all of the Shlichim together for a Summer Bootcamp – a four-day hands-on planning workshop. Teachers leave after four days with plans, emails and activities in hand for the start of school.
Once off to North America, Across The Sea remains an ongoing support both for the schools themselves and for the Shlichim. When Shlichim are successful, their community impact is tremendous. Like anyone headed into a new situation, being prepared, knowledgeable and confident can often be the difference between success and failure. Let’s work together to create the best possible chance of success for our Shlichim!
Dr. Cindy Mann is Founder of Across the Sea.