New this year. TALI Spiritual Education Program
The Institute for Applied Research and Advancement of Spiritual Education in TALI Schools , called "Neshama Yetera" in Hebrew, was established in 2012. An ambitious multi-year plan to build a spiritual education program for Israel's state elementary schools and kindergartens, Neshama Yeteira (An Extra Soul), commenced in Fall 2012 with an intensive 3-semester seminar for rabbis and other educators. The seminar, held weekly at the Neve Schechter-Legacy Heritage Center for Jewish Culture in Tel Aviv, teaches the basics of Spiritual Education and its pedagogical underpinnings. The Institute will conduct a pilot project in TALI schools and kindergartens in its 2nd year of operation (2013-14).
Leadership Development Program
The program, a two-year in-service professional development course, was established over a decade ago to develop competent and professional educational leadership, conversant with Jewish texts and the language of Jewish education. The program provides practical skills in Jewish education appropriate to the largely non-religious population of TALI schools. Meeting one full day a week, the program is open to TALI teachers, Jewish studies coordinators and principals. Each year there are 40 -50 educators studying in the program. All new TALI schools are required to send 3-4 lead teachers to this program, and educators from veteran TALI schools participate as well. Courses are credited towards an M.A. degree in Jewish Education and are taught by the Schechter Institute faculty. To date, 205 TALI teachers and principals have graduated from the program, with 171 completing the M.A. program in Jewish Studies at the Schechter Instiute.
TALI School Rabbis
The TALI School Rabbis Program adds a critical dimension of spiritual education to the TALI school network by providing non-observant children, teachers, and parents from with positive educational and spiritual experiences with rabbis. The rabbis represent a new type of role model for the pupils and their parents - one of a tolerant and open-minded spiritual educator who relates to them in a language and style that is at once inclusive and conducive to their modes of learning. Some schools have a school rabbi assigned to them, and others choose from a menu of services that a school rabbi can provide.
Curriculum Development - Now Marketed to Entire Israeli Public School System
TEF develops educational resources to provide practical and engaging models for their teachers for the integration of the TALI syllabus into their classrooms. The materials teach Jewish sources and expose children to Jewish tradition in a way that inculcates democratic values and religious tolerance, as well as respect for other cultures. Textbooks are used in each grade to teach the Weekly Portion, Holidays, and other values-based topics.
In 2012, TALI responsed to the Ministry of Education's nationwide Tarbut Yisrael (Jewish Culture) initiative and published five books on Judaism and Zionism for grades 6-8. Altogether, TEF sold close to 40,000 books to more than 200 schools nationwide. TEF is now involved in writing and producing the sixth book in the series. TEF also led training seminiars for some 2,000 non-TALI teachers to instruct them in the use of the new curricular materials.
Dialogue and Identity
The TALI School Network in Israel has developed, together with the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, a program for Jewish-Arab encounter which began 7 years ago between a group of TALI schools in Israel's north and a network of Christian-Arab schools. The model trains Jewish and Arab teachers to implement a curriculum stressing "three religions in the Holy Land", and to jointly facilitate a series of encounters in which their pupils meet and present their religions and culture to each other. The TALI Education Fund initiated the project as a dimension of its goal of strengthening the Jewish knowledge and identity of TALI pupils in the secular public school system. The nurturing of a tolerant Jewish identity within the environment of a sectarian and generally intolerant Middle East, is perhaps the challenge that we face as educators. In 2012, 14 schools are enrolled in the program, mainly in the north,and in Petach Tikvah and Ramle.
TALI’s Leket project introduces the Jewish value of Tzedaka by teaching sources on the Mitzvot of Peah and Leket (gleaning and and leaving a corner of the fields for the poor) and discussing issues of hunger and poverty today. The highlight for the families is picking unharvested crops which are then distributed by Leket to needy families. A TALI booklet “Picking and Helping” was distributed to teachers as an aide in introducing the project. The project was greatly expanded in 2012 to include 21 TALI schools, reaching more than 1600 students, their parents and teachers.