Within the framework of the Partnership2Gether School Twining Program, strong relationships have developed between Israeli students and teachers from the ZHR region with their counterparts in the Palm Beach Jewish Community.
This month Nammie Ichilov, headmaster of the Meyer Academy visited the region with his daughter Adina. Meyer Academy is the sole Jewish day school in Palm Beach where students study from K-8 grade. Although on a family visit to Israel Nammie took the time to travel to the ZHR region and visit the Begin Interdisciplinary High School and Vilcomitch Elementary in Safed and Rosh Pina, respectively.
Vilcomitch Community School has three classes participating in the twinning program opposite three classes from the Meyer Jewish Academy in Palm Beach. Upon his arrival, the school’s principal and the teachers’ active in the twinning program greeted him warmly. Osnat Raski, the school’s principal welcomed Nammie and took him on a tour of the school. Nammie brought with him a donation of 145 English language books that were collected by the students at Meyer Academy during the recent months for their friends at Vilcomitch with the objective of enriching the school’s English library.
Nammie’s daughter Adina is a fifth grade student who studies in the class parallel to that of Perla Vilcomitch. Adina was very excited prior to her meeting with her partner pupils from Israel, and came bearing letters and gifts prepared by her classmates in Palm Beach. She toured the school and participated in some of the lessons of her ‘twin’ class.
This is the fourth year of ‘twinning’ between 8th grade classes at the Begin Interdisciplinary High School and their counterparts at the Meyer Academy surrounding the subject of Israel Memorial Day. A curriculum was selected that focused upon the subject of Memorial Day in Israel enabling the children to learn about the soldiers from the partnership region who throughout the years fell in defense of the nation, and the reality facing the region during wartime. The main activity centers around correspondence between the students until their face-to-face meeting on Memorial Day. Every year, a delegation of some 40 American students visit Safed to enjoy a spiritual Shabbat and quality time with their friends from Begin High School. At the end of this weeklong visit, the students from the two partner schools travel together, get to know one another and experience a unique “Shabbat in Safed”. For the students from Palm Beach the program has a tremendous impact on their connection to Judaism and Israel, connects them with newfound friends from among the children of Safed and gives them a better understanding of the fact that they are part of a larger people that resides not only in Israel but also throughout the Diaspora.
This year the program centers on an acquaintance and commemoration of the memories of the soldiers who fell in the wars of Israel, all of them former students of the Begin High School. The students from both communities study the biographies of the fallen soldiers, correspond with the soldiers’ families and document the emotional and historical processes that they experience. This past December a first meeting was held at Begin High School in which students enriched their knowledge surrounding the Meyer Academy and the Palm Beach Jewish Community. They all wrote brief letters of introduction and sent their first emails to their ‘pen-pals’ abroad. During their next session, the students will begin their joint studies surrounding the particular fallen soldier and compose a letter to his family.
Following his visit to Vilcomitch, Nammie arrived at the Begin High School. There he was met by Ofer Zaafrani, the school’s principal, Iris Dayan, the school’s social coordinator, and Natalie Samirnov and Etti Ben Abu, the partner classes’ homeroom teachers.
Upon entering the 8th grade class, Nammie received a heartwarming surprise. The classroom was decorated with “Welcome” signs and the logo of his school. A wonderful discussion developed between Nammie and the class. The atmosphere in the class was one of excited expectation towards the contact and the meaningful program being developed between the partners.