Six years ago I began a personal research project with the aim of identifying the most constructive model for a Jewish Education ecosystem that would enrich, inspire and empower Jewish children in Europe.
Specifically, my research addressed two issues: Firstly, how can Jewish children who do not live near a Jewish day School access Jewish education? And secondly, how can the Jewish education being provided give those Jewish children help them gain access to the wider global Jewish conversation?
Of course, whenever a new education project is conceived, the financial implications are considered, and all too often, great education solutions remain unrealised due to insufficient funds. But then I came up with the idea of a Jewish online school – today the ‘Zehud Jewish Online School’. Naturally, as an online school, this meant that anyone anywhere could access learning. But beyond this, it also became clear that the financial and academic return on investments could be flipped which meant that we could provide high quality learning in small online class from outstanding engaging teachers at a price that was accessible and affordable to all.
Having identified the platform for my school I then started thinking about the curriculum, and while considering how to build and retain identity I came to the conclusion that language is culture and culture is language, and therefore, Ivrit is the key that a child needs to unlock and connect with our sacred Jewish texts and engage in the global Jewish conversation, which is why, at Zehud, Ivrit is the foundation on which our school is built.
As you may have guessed there were detractors, pessimists, people who said it could not be done. For these kinds of people, the idea of an online school providing 3 hours of Ivrit and Judaic Studies lessons per week went against everything they knew about successful Jewish education.
But what they didn’t realise is that the small class sizes, the active learning, and the reduced costs – all of which are due to the decision to construct an online school – are precisely the factors that have enabled the students of the Zehud school to achieve what, in most parts of the Jewish education world, hasn’t been done.
If you were to visit most Jewish day schools in the US, the UK, South Africa and Australia, you would regrettably find that notwithstanding their significant fees, most children leave without being able to say more than a single sentence in Ivrit. Constrasting this, if you were to come and visit a Zehud class, you would hear 8 year old boy from Udine, Italy holding conversations in Ivrit, and a 9 year old from Zagreb, Croatia discussing the upcoming festivals in Ivrit.
Zehud is currently registering students for the upcoming academic year. If you would like to know more, please contact me personally firstname.lastname@example.org and our website. .