Nearly 100 years ago, Bessie Gotsfeld, the visionary founder of American Mizrachi Women (today known as AMIT Children), traveled to pre-state Palestine with a suitcase and a dream of educating the children of Israel to help develop a Jewish homeland.
In 1927, Gotsfeld saw Israel’s future. She bought expansive acreage in the underdeveloped desert to build vocational schools to teach young women to cultivate the land. By the early 2000s, this land had become desired real estate in Ra’anana, now one of Israel’s most sought-after suburban cities. This year, AMIT will be breaking ground on this farmland purchase to build AMIT Kfar Batya, a $70 million educational campus and epicenter of innovation for Israel and the world, opening in 2025. The site aims to transition Israel from the “Startup Nation” to the “Education Nation.”
One of Israel’s most defining attributes is its ability to create something of enduring value from humble beginnings over time—making something from nothing. The origin story of AMIT’s Kfar Batya campus befits that of its homeland: The new Kfar Batya campus will be a place to nurture, challenge and inspire; where AMIT students will develop shared values of acceptance, excellence, Torah values and unity, thus preparing them to become productive citizens and proud leaders of the State of Israel.
Take, for example, AMIT alumna Noam Goldberg, now a thriving TV anchorwoman for Israel’s Channel 13, who graduated from the AMIT Bellows Ulpanat Noga High School in Beit Shemesh. AMIT empowered Goldberg to reach her full potential through academics while simultaneously grounding her in Torah learning and encouraging active citizenship. Through AMIT, the young woman was taught to embrace her Orthodox upbringing while simultaneously pursuing a career as a TV anchorwoman. Goldberg is living proof of AMIT’s time-honored success in developing the future leaders of Israel, and a testament to the vision that the Kfar Batya campus will become the nucleus that supplies Israel’s educational revolution into a new age of progress.
In describing the vision of the incoming AMIT Kfar Batya campus, AMIT President Audrey Axelrod Trachtman introduces the Hebrew word “shlichut” as a means of describing the mission of the new campus. As she explained: “Shlichut is a word with many meanings, but in this context, it is meant to convey an expression of AMIT educators’ ultimate mission—a full body and soul commitment to transform the lived trajectory of children in Israel. AMIT students are of various ethnicities, religious practices and socioeconomic backgrounds. This year, AMIT will be taking a major step to make our shlichut a mission in which we all share, that much deeper and stronger.”
For AMIT to fulfill this shlichut, ensuring the meaningful education of all Israeli children, despite their diverse backgrounds, the solution lies in the Gogya method. Derived from the Hebrew term for pedagogy, Gogya began as AMIT’s vision to transform Israel’s education system through a 21st-century education approach. Gogya emphasizes creativity, curiosity, teamwork, flexibility and critical thinking, setting up Israel’s children to succeed in an ever-changing world. The method is the foundation of the new AMIT Kfar Batya campus—both metaphorically and physically—forming the backbone not only of AMIT’s foundational beliefs but also its physical manifestation in the form of the $70 million epicenter of educational transformation.
Embodying Gogya Innovation: Bringing the Classroom Into The Real World, and the Real World Into the Classroom
For four consecutive years, Israel’s Education Ministry has ranked AMIT the No. 1 educational network in the country, directly coinciding with the development of its innovative Gogya methodology. Established in 2014, the Gogya technique “brings the classroom into the real world and the real world into the classroom,” according to Trachtman, AMIT’s president. Gogya is short for pedagogya, Hebrew for pedagogy, a term coined by the AMIT educational leadership in 2014 to describe their visionary new program—tasked with transforming Israel’s education system to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s economic, technological and social shifts.
Dr. Amnon Eldar, director general of AMIT, explained that the Gogya method was conceived in response to the needs of AMIT students in the 21st century: “In my role … I always aim to put the students first. More than ever before, the souls of our students need attentive educators. Knowledge acquisition is important, but listening to our students, providing social interaction and helping shape their personalities are even more important.
“During COVID, this became even clearer. It was not math class that students found most lacking, but rather their social lives. They needed face-to-face interaction with their homeroom teachers, a listening ear and a warm smile.”
This mission—to always put the students first—is the foundational belief that has driven AMIT’s vision throughout the past decade in its quest to empower and strengthen all Israeli students. The Gogya method is AMIT’s engine for implementing this changing vision, transitioning classical school methods of the past to revolutionary educational learning communities of the future.
Since its inception, AMIT Kfar Batya has been the center of educational aspirations. Now, 100 years later, the new campus will provide a similarly revolutionary change for all Israeli children—no matter their beliefs, personal challenges or background, with the AMIT Gogya initiative as its power source, ensuring a child-centric approach for every individual Israeli student. The new campus, as Dr. Eldar so aptly put it, will serve as “a lighthouse of education, values, entrepreneurship and innovation based on a vision of promoting 21st-century skills and values of entrepreneurship, and breaking the glass ceilings and walls we are familiar with today.”
AMIT Kfar Batya: Seeding the Minds of Israel’s Future
The entire AMIT Kfar Batya campus is set to be an innovation hub where new ideas will be born. This will be no ordinary academic campus—rather, Kfar Batya will be a center of progressive education and innovative vision where AMIT can make its headquarters and reimagine its mission to develop the full potential of over 40,000 Israeli children each year; level the playing field by offering diverse opportunities for every child; and positively reform the face of Israel for generations still to come.
The new campus will serve as an incubator for the development and implementation model of innovative educational frameworks. AMIT Kfar Batya will be an experimental teaching laboratory for thousands of teachers and students across Israel. The educational advancements and new methodologies conceived at the campus will be shared with the education community worldwide.
AMIT Kfar Batya will focus on academic excellence and be grounded in AMIT’s Torah values, with the goal of leveling the playing field for all Israeli children regardless of socioeconomic background, disability or personal challenges. The new campus will feature The Evan and Layla Green Family Foundation Gogya Building and Program; The Educators’ Innovation Center; AMIT Headquarters; Community Athletic Complex; The Gwen Straus Junior and Senior High School for Boys; Elementary School; Welcome Center; Memorial Park for Fallen Soldiers; and Outdoor Amphitheater.
While the new Kfar Batya campus will become the hub of the education revolution in Israel, Dr. Eldar clarifies that the vision will expand to all AMIT schools. “We work with each school on its policies and desired goals, add new staff members to the school, and then train the teachers, run operations, and implement the Gogya ecosystem,” Eldar said.
More than 70% of the 40,000 students that attend AMIT’s 96 schools in 32 cities throughout the country are from marginalized, disadvantaged communities. Most schools join the AMIT network when the municipalities that own the schools seek to improve the quality of education and student performance and select the AMIT organization to oversee them. In addition to funds raised in the U.S., AMIT relies on a budget from those municipalities and Israel’s Ministry of Education; the organization also partners with companies in Israel like Amazon and AstraZeneca that provide internship and mentoring opportunities for its children, taking a page straight from the Gogya methodology by bringing children out of the classroom and into the real world.
AMIT Children has impacted a diverse range of over 328,000 Israeli children and families through challenging times, before statehood and throughout Israel’s modern history.
When the new AMIT Kfar Batya campus receives its first cohort of Israeli students in 2025, it will prove itself to be a groundbreaking template in childhood education that will transform the way children are educated not only in Israel but throughout the world. It is the start of the next 100-year chapter in the continuing story of Israel: AMIT children, Jews worldwide who care deeply for the future of our collective homeland, and the countless young women and men throughout Israel who will benefit from this investment for generations to come.
For more information about AMIT Kfar Batya, visit https://kfarbatya.org/
For more information on AMIT, visit https://amitchildren.org/
By Betty Anne Richardson