North Carolina Newspapers

    An Affiliate of the Jewish Federation
of Greater Charlotte
Vol. 35, No. 2
Shevat-Adar 5773
February 2013
Jewish Peoplehood the Theme of the Jewish Federation
P2Gether Partnership Educator Delegation
By Amy Krakovitz
Thirty-two teachers from
around the Southeast US came to
gether to attend the 2012
P2Gether Educator’s Delegation
to Israel with our partners in the
Hadera-Eiron region. Partnership
2Gether is an initiative of the Jew
ish Federation of Greater Char
lotte and the Jewish Agency for
Israel that creates people to people
connections between Israelis and
Jews in the Diaspora. From Chat
tanooga, Knoxville, Nashville,
Jacksonville, Richmond, and of
course, Charlotte, they arrived as
individuals, and left as a cohesive
group, ready to continue the rela
tionship with the Partnership and
the students and families that they
connected with.
The emphasis of every activity
was Jewish Peoplehood, how we
are connected across the globe.
From the Atlit Detention Camp, to
the Aliyah Museum, to the
Tunisian Synagogue, to Yad
Vashem, our bonds of Judaism
were stressed and clarified.
But it wasn’t just the museums
and sites of Israel that connected
us. We each spent two days teach
ing in various schools across the
area, from preschools to elemen
tary schools to high schools. We
dined with our teachers and got to
know the students. “The school
that I attended was absolutely
filled with love, learning, compas
sion, excitement, and respect for
both the children as well as the
teachers,” says Melanie Marks,
who teaches preschool at the We
instein JCC and third grade Ju-
daics at Temple Beth El in
Richmond. “I formed a
special bond with one par
ticular teacher, Ronit, and
her children, and I already
miss them.”
The teachers were met
with a great deal of warmth
from the participating
schools on the first day.
Some were greeted with
special signs put up for
them, other schools put to
gether special perform
ances with song and dance.
Getting to know the stu
dents was fun and interesting as
well.
The informal atmosphere in the
Israeli schools was surprising.
Teachers are called by their first
names. Wanda Vande Linde of the
Jewish Preschool on Sardis no
ticed a “busy” atmosphere at the
preschool she visited. “The school
was small and reminded me of a
little beehive buzzing,” she says.
“It was an exciting place full of
activity. It also made me appreci
ate my classroom so much more
... [it] is twice as large with less
than half of the number of chil
dren.”
The older students are also
given a great deal of responsibil
ity. The 9th graders at Bet Eliezer
created a lesson plan for the 7th
graders about gratitude. They per
formed a skit from a story in Pirke
Avot, then gave out replicas of a
Hannah Piracha of Richmond participates in the
Friday afternoon Kabbalat Shabbat with Char
lotte s Nancy Good, a teacher at Hebrew High.
newspaper front page banner and
had the 7th grades create
their own stories and head
lines about what they were
thankful for.
Leigh Watson, a Special
Education teacher in the
Dalton, GA school system,
who lives in Chattanooga,
saw some distinctions in the
way Israel deals with Spe
cial Education students, as
our Israeli counterparts did
not mainstream challenged
students.
We were also greatly im
pacted by our weekends
with local families in the re
gion. Somehow it seemed
for the most part, that Maya
Shoham and Yael Ben Tzion, the
staff members of the local partner
ship, matched up each teacher
with his or her “beshert.” Having
missed my morning runs for al
most a week, I was thrilled to
be spending the weekend with
a runner, Eti Hosman, who took
me into the agricultural fields
behind her moshav to run with
her running group. Eight-and-a-
half miles later, I knew I had
found a “sister.” Throughout
the weekend, we discovered so
many other things that we had
in common.
Other teachers expressed ex
actly the same sentiments about
their weekend hosts. Susan
Soto, a 3rd grade Hebrew
teacher from Temple Beth El here
He local partnership with the Charlotte dele
gation: Maya Shoham, Betsy Olinger, Nancy
Good, Amy Krakovitz, Wanda Vande Linde,
Susan Soto, Jennifer Sawyer, and Yael Ben
Tzion.
in Charlotte, was as thrilled with
her host family, saying her hosts,
the Hermonis, were like family.
Our trip culminated in
Jerusalem where Avraham Infeld
detailed for us the “Five Legged
Table” of being Jewish: Family,
Memory, Mt. Sinai, Israel (the
Land and the State), and Hebrew.
His compelling speech ignited us
to bring Jewish Peoplehood to our
classes. Jennifer Sawyer, a 2nd
grade Sunday school teacher at
Charlotte’s Temple Beth El, was
thrilled with his presentation.
There is so much more that we
did, so much more that connected
us to Israel, the land and the peo
ple, and to each other. But I will
let Fiat Walker, a 3rd and 5th
grade Jewish studies teacher at the
Marvin J. Gottlieb Day School
in Jacksonville, FL, conclude
for us: “Although I am a native
of Israel, I never traveled and
explored the country as we did
on this trip. It is like I was see
ing Israel for the first time
through the eyes of a Jewish ed
ucator and through the eyes of
my students. ... The teachers
and students ... were so excited
to share themselves with us and
learn about Jews in America. I
was so impressed with how
much the Israeli teachers were
committed to this partnership.
... I can’t wait to continue our
partnership in the future.” ^
Sign Up Today for PJ Library
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You might have received a
mailing recently that contained a
free book, telling you about the
launching of PJ Library in the
greater Charlotte area.
The PJ Library, (“PJ” for paja
mas), sends out high quality Jew
ish children’s books every month
to participating families ... for
free. PJ Library currently operates
in over 180 Jewish communities
across North America, reaching
the families of more than 100,000
children a month, ages six months
through eight years. The program
is a powerful tool for families to
engage in the joys of Jewish life
and traditions.
The PJ Library is the brainchild
of Harold Grinspoon, a highly in
novative philanthropist from West
ern Massachusetts. Grinspoon
knew that reading stories and lis
tening to music are among the
most powerful childhood learning
experiences and found his inspira-
tion in the literacy
program of country
singer Dolly Parton.
“More than seven
years ago I brought
Dolly’s Imagination
Library books to
inner-city children in
Springfield [MA],”
Grinspoon explained. “Then it oc
curred to me - sending books to
families’ homes is an ideal project
to adapt to the Jewish commu
nity.”
All the books were chosen for
their potential to inspire parent-
child moments and memories.
They span the emotions, from the
humorous No Matzah for Me! to
the poignant The Always Prayer
Shawl, winner of multiple book
awards.
One book chosen for the eight-
year-olds, King Solomon and the
Queen of Sheba, can be used to
spark discussions about differing
faiths and cultures in a way
that children can understand.
The book is jointly authored
by Blu Greenberg, a leading
American Jewish thought-
leader, and Reverend Linda
Tarry, an African American
Minister at the famous River
side Church in New York.
PJ Library is made possible
here in Charlotte with funding
from the Jewish Federation of
Greater Charlotte and a generous
local donor couple.
The time to sign up is now. Any
family in the greater Charlotte
area, raising Jewish children from
six months through eight years
old is eligible. To sign up or for
more information visit www.pjli-
brary.org. ^
lEWISH^
FEDERATION^
OF GREATER CHARLOTTE
    

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