The Ruach HaCarmel Program
The Center for Jewish and Democratic Education has developed an innovative approach to preparing the next generation of Judaic Studies teachers to work in pluralistic settings in North America and Israel. The Center launched the Ruach HaCarmel Program designed to equip native Hebrew-speaking graduates with a solid grounding in Judaic texts, a firm grasp of 21st century pedagogy, a deep commitment to Jewish pluralism and the skills to inspire American and Israeli students.
This program is designed not only to revitalize Judaic Studies teaching and learning in North American and Israeli schools, but also to address the Judaic Studies teacher shortage in schools that embrace a vision of pluralistic Judaism.
A lack of well-qualified Judaic Studies professionals is a constraint in many communities. In order to bring Israeli and North American Jewish youth closer to traditions and texts, investment in highly skilled teachers equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and cultural sensitivity to truly inspire their students is necessary. Exposing North American students to Israeli culture is also a key mission of many Jewish schools that can be difficult to achieve.
While training for native Hebrew speaking educators exists, no program offers a curriculum that prepares participants for work in both Israeli and American school settings. Additionally, American trained educators are generally more comfortable teaching Judaic texts in English while Israeli trained teachers working in North America often find it difficult to relate to American students. The Ruach HaCarmel teacher preparation program combines the best of what Israeli teachers have to offer in terms of language and culture, with a well-rounded curriculum that prepares them to be successful in American classrooms.
The Ruach HaCarmel Program identifies and prepares a select group of Israeli university students to connect modern life with ancient texts while embodying the values of openness and diversity. The three-year program combines an accelerated BA degree, granting a double major in Education and Judaic Studies, with an Israeli teaching certificate. , Qualified graduates will be eligible to apply to an accelerated MA degree and to teach for a period in an American Jewish school.
A unique feature is a study abroad program that allows Israeli participants to attend US universities while engaging in practical field experiences in local Jewish schools. Upon graduation, these teachers will work for a minimum of two years in pluralistic Jewish day schools in North America – specifically in those Jewish communities that lack the infrastructure to prepare Judaic teachers to teach Jewish texts in Hebrew.
The Ruach HaCarmel Program was launched in 2013 in cooperation with the Atlanta Jewish community and Georgia State University . It has graduated its first class of 3 students and there are currently 15 student teachers enrolled in the program. The Program has a goal of graduating cohorts of 30 students in a 3-year cycle and seeks to partner with additional Jewish communities that would benefit from an infusion of highly motivated and well-trained Israeli educators in their schools.
The Ruach HaCarmel Program will have significant impact on Jewish communities in Israel and North America, strengthen Jewish identities and instill a spirit of scholarship and pluralism among educators and students. As Israel's most pluralistic university—and the only Israeli university with a Faculty of Education—the University of Haifa is uniquely qualified to offer this unparalleled academic experience integrating educational training and Judaic studies. Graduates of the program will make significant contributions to Jewish life and learning in Israel and North America.
The International Research Group on Jewish Education in the Early Years (IRGJEEY)
The International Research Group on Jewish Education in the Early Years (IRGJEEY) of the Center for Jewish and Democratic Education at the University of Haifa was established in conjunction with the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute in 2010 with the explicit mission to help train researchers in the nascent field of scholarship in early childhood Jewish education. Its members are presently comprised of 16 American and Israeli early childhood educators who meet online throughout the year to dialogue on critical issues in their global field of practice. This unique community of learners provides a variety of opportunities for collaboration and networking which have resulted in numerous academic articles, international conference presentations and contributions in the field. The group is currently collaborating on an academic book presenting the Jewish case of early religious education
Publications of the IRGJEEY group
Alexander, S. T., Brody, D. L., Muller, M., Ziv, H. G., Achituv, S., Gorsetman, C. R., & Vogelstein, I. (2016). Voices of American and Israeli Early Childhood Educators on Inclusion. International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education, 8(1), 16-38. (Shelley T. Alexander 1 David L. Brody 2 Meir Muller 3 Haggith Gor Ziv 4 Sigal Achituv 5 Chaya R. Gorsetman 6 Janet Harris 7 Clodie Tal 8 Roberta Goodman 9 Deborah Schein 10 Ilene Vogelstein 11 Lyndall Miller 12)
Journal of Jewish Education, Vol. 79, 3
Alexander, S. T. (2013). Children of the Book: Parents, Bedtime, and Jewish Identity. Journal of Jewish Education, 79(3), 174-198.
Brody, D. L., & Gorsetman, C. R. (2013). “It's Part of the Fabric”: Creating Context for the Successful Involvement of an Outside Expert of Jewish Early Childhood Education in School Change. Journal of Jewish Education, 79(3), 199-234.
Achituv, S. (2013). What Did the Teacher Say Today? State Religious Kindergarten Teachers Deal With Complex Torah Stories. Journal of Jewish Education, 79(3), 256-296.
Muller, M. (2013). Constructivism and Jewish early childhood education. Journal of Jewish Education, 79(3), 315-334.
Tal, C. (2013). What Do We Mean by Jewish Education in Professional Development for Early Childhood Education?. Journal of Jewish Education, 79(3), 335-359.
Schein, D. L. (2013). Research and reflections on the spiritual development of young Jewish children. Journal of Jewish Education, 79(3), 360-385.
Muller, M., Gorsetman, C., & Alexander, S. T. (2018). Struggles and Successes in Constructivist Jewish Early Childhood Classrooms. Journal of Jewish Education, 84(3), 284-311.