We believe that a knowledge and understanding of Jewish history strengthens Jewish pride and citizenship and promotes an emotional connection to Jewish peoplehood. To improve the teaching of Jewish history at day schools, AVI CHAI funds a project operated jointly by The Network for the Teaching of Jewish History at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University and RAVSAK: the Jewish Community Day School Network for a 15-month program for teams of teachers from Jewish middle and high schools.
During the first phase of the program, a graduate student visits each school to learn how they wish to improve the teaching of Jewish history in the school and works with the faculty to produce a diagnostic report for the school. Phase II consists of a one-week workshop for teams of 3-4 educators from each school, after which graduate students will monitor school progress, offering assistance to the schools and bringing in the senior historians from the summer as necessary. Contact will be maintained through a blog and listserv as well as another group workshop during the year.
With one cohort through the program and another in the midst, early results suggest progress in improved educational programs and the beginnings of an ongoing network of Jewish history teachers.