Chavura CHAI: A Training Event and Beyond

by Ariel Lifac

On February 16 and 17, the 18th Meeting of Latin American Jewish Educators – on this occasion called Chavura CHAI was held in BAMÁ – “Home of the Jewish Educator”. In fact, the letters representing number 18 also make up the Hebrew word chai, meaning life. This is why, together with more than 800 educators (teachers, professors and headmasters of all educational levels) from Jewish schools of Buenos Aires, the provinces of the country and abroad – Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Chile and Peru – who participated in this event, we decided to celebrate the continuity of the educational task that BAMÁ has been developing for the last 10 years. But we not only celebrated the past, in this Chavura and in all the programs developed by BAMÁ, we keep on working toward its future growth in the coming years.

The central focus selected for the Chavura CHAI was “Languages, Culture and Identity”, under which a broad range of workshops were offered to teachers, professors, coordinators, headmasters and directors of Judaic Studies and secular studies at various educational levels. The courses were conducted by well-known specialists from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Israel. The workshops dealt with new and relevant educational topics, taking always into account the target audience at hand: the students, their families and the Jewish-Latin American community in general.

The event also offered three important programs developed by BAMÁ, Morei Morim, Mirkam and Jail, to reflect on their past accomplishments and set goals for the future. Morei Morim Lehoraat Hashoá is a joint project of BAMÁ, Yad Vashem and the Jewish Agency for Israel, sponsored by the Claims Conference. Its purpose is to train and coach educators from the formal and non-formal areas for them to become Morei Morim, teachers of teachers in Hebrew, for Holocuast Education.

MIRKAM is a virtual training program for educators from the provinces of Argentina organized by BAMÁ and AMIA with the support of L.A. Pincus Fund for Jewish Education in the Diaspora. Its objectives are to train non-formal and supplementary education professors in Judaic studies and to create networks of professionals that support the educational processes in the Argentine provinces.

CHAIL – Chinuch Yehudí Latfutzot is devoted to promoting the development and strengthening of Jewish and Zionist education in secondary schools across the Diaspora. This program is entirely funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education of Israel and sponsored by Olamit, a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency.

We’d like to thank all who came to participate in the 18th Meeting of Latin American Jewish Educators at BAMÁ. Initial feedback received from some participants was very positive. As participant, Michel Gherman, from Hillel in Rio, noted.

When I was invited to take part in Morei Morim I did not even imagine the high level that such project could reach. Morei Morim was certainly one of the highest level courses on Holocaust studies I have ever taken part. I can say that many elements contribute to that: The educational material, the teachers and the fantastic group of educators from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay that created a community of people interested in teaching how to teach the Shoah in a relevant and universalistic way, where students and chanichim (educators) will understand the importance of holocaust studies in nowadays. For that I am very grateful for the opportunity of taking part in Morei Morim and am sure it is an important initiative of Shoah education in Latin America today.

Or Bigger, an educational emissary, in Argentina, added,

The way I see it, [the 18th Meeting of the Latin American Jewish Educators at BAMA] is the way to keep [our Jewish] values alive, keep on questioning them, and choosing to be a Zionist not from the force of the habit, rather than the place of thinking and choosing to be one. If we truly brought well experienced teachers (and they are) to reflect, this is our major achievement.

We look forward to continued success in our endeavors in expanding and strengthening Jewish education across Latin America.

courtesy Jewish Agency for Israel