Lamorim – Giving French Jewish Schools the Means to Achieve Their Mission

Courtesy LaMorim

By Dvorah Serrao

Considering that France is the third Diaspora in the world with more than 500 000 Jews it is with a lot of enthusiasm that Lamorim was initiated.

Lamorim was launched in 2017 to support French Jewish schools in their educational efforts in Jewish studies and Hebrew and in the adoption of innovative tools and methods. Lamorim is a fund, the fruit of a partnership between the State of Israel and philanthropic institutions in France and Europe. It addresses all French Jewish school and helps them to define a strategic vision, consistent with its identity and its educational project.

Lamorim’s commitment is to give Jewish schools in France the means to achieve their mission. Each action of Lamorim makes it possible to cultivate a little more the citizen identity of the pupils in France. What we do today is critical to the future of Jewish school students. We must no longer ask what the child will know at the end of a school curriculum, but rather what he will become, in terms of behaviors, actions and practices. That involves quite a change in the perception of teaching: the student must be taught to act within his or her community, family and country, in respect with the universal Jewish values of openness and tolerance.

In association with the principals, Lamorim works “without catalog, without brochure. We have nothing to sell; we are waiting to hear the needs from the schools,” Dvorah Serrao, Director of Lamorim, explains. “From there, the schools, together with Lamorim, put in place a strategy to achieve the set objectives.”

After 2 years of existence Lamorim supports 27 schools, 36 school principals and / or Heads of School and has an impact on 13,000 students.

Several actions and educational curriculum in the areas of Jewish Education and Hebrew have been implemented. An online platform for teaching Jewish history is currently under development. Intensive Hebrew courses (ulpan) are organized twice a year in France and Israel, as well as trainings allowing teachers to integrate digital tools in their teaching (with Jewish Interactive and Sefaria). Nearly 1500 primary and secondary students became new users of Innovative Hebrew textbooks (YeshVa Yesh, Ivit Be Click, ITalam) after Lamorim presented these methods to the schools, organized training sessions and offered financial support for their purchase. Pilots are being conducted in schools to test the relevance and feasibility of textbooks for teaching subjects such as Mishna (Sulamot), Gemara (Steinsaltz) and studies in Havruta (El Ami).

And this is just a beginning… 5780 will bring more innovations and changes in the French Jewish educational landscape.

Beginnings are not difficult if they are part of the Creation … French Jewry does not always need a Revolution to make things work!

Shana Tova!

Dvorah Serrao is the Director of LaMorim.