April 13, 2024
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Bar-Ilan’s Lookstein Center Helps Schools Celebrate Israel at 70

As Israel prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Lookstein Center, a division of Bar-Ilan University, in collaboration with the Avi Chai Foundation, has introduced “Countdown to 70,” an educational project for Jewish students and educators worldwide. The “Countdown to 70” comprises 70 educational challenges about Israel that are emailed daily to individuals or schools that have signed up to participate. More than 4000 individuals and over 200 schools in the metropolitan area and beyond have registered to date, including Yavneh Academy, Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and SAR Academy.

The 70 five-minute challenges are in the form of puzzles, quizzes, memory games and riddles. These games are available online and will allow schools and individuals to compete with others worldwide during the coming weeks leading up to Yom Ha’atzmaut. The challenges focus on facts about Israel and its heritage, and are designed for kids in first through 12th grades with four levels of play, the lower ones being simpler and the higher levels more challenging. Some quizzes include true-or-false questions; for example, students will be asked if it’s true or false that Israel is bigger than New Jersey. Professionals at the Lookstein Center believe these 70 challenges for 70 days are a perfect vehicle to engage kids, teachers and parents in a way that is cost free and not too time consuming.

The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education is a non-profit organization in the United States and in Israel. Established 40 years ago, it was named for Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, a founder of Bar-Ilan University. The Lookstein Center is a leading resource center for Jewish educators, leaders, students and lay people worldwide. Stuart Zweiter, director of the Lookstein Center, has also served as an instructor in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University and as a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. In the U.S., he served as a principal at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School and at the Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey. A core mission at the Lookstein Center is to provide up-to-date resources and learning opportunities for Jewish education outside of Israel, explained Zweiter. The Lookstein Center specializes in educational training, curriculum development and maximizing technology in Jewish education.

Recently, the Lookstein Center has been concentrating on providing programs directly to students in the diaspora. They have developed a comprehensive curriculum for Israeli education that is currently being used in 70 schools. The program comprises 16 lessons a year over eight years, totaling 128 lessons, which are user friendly and allow students to gain a lot of information in a short period of time. The curriculum is also available in Russian and will hopefully be made available in Spanish when the funding becomes available.

Zweiter believes that Israeli education needs to become more essential in the educational syllabus of the diaspora. He sees “Countdown to 70” as one way to introduce Israeli education to students in an interactive, fun and experiential manner. Currently about 5,000 students are playing the games and Zweiter hopes that number will double as we approach the 70th anniversary of Israel.

The Lookstein Center is one of many notable divisions of Bar-Ilan University. While other universities tend to focus on one specific industry or specialty, at Bar-Ilan, the curriculum is multi-faceted, offering opportunities to a diversified group of people. Founded on Jewish values, Bar-Ilan does not shy away from its Jewish roots. Students are required to enroll in one Jewish studies course during their tenure. A leader in science, medicine and archaeology, it offers a top-notch academic menu while at the same time incorporating the fundamental values of Judaism, a unique feature that distinguishes it from other universities in Israel. For further information about the Lookstein Center and to sign up for the “Countdown to 70” Challenge, please visit www.lookstein.org.

By Andrea Nissel

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