Family & Education

Crossing borders: educational technology helps small communities

London-based Jewish Interactive is spreading the word across Europe on digital resources


While MPs were debating how Britain should leave the EU, one Anglo-Jewish organisation was embracing Europe.

Jewish Interactive (Ji) hosted a conference earlier ythis month on how to use technology for Jewish education for 23 teachers from 13 countries across the continent. As well as from the UK, France and Germany, they came also from small Jewish communities such as the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

“Technology can cross borders,” said Ji chief executive Chana Kanzen.

Whereas the cost of translating a textbook from English into Hungarian would be prohibitive, it is far easier to adapt a digital resource for a community speaking a different language.

The 10-month course, which Ji is running with an Israel based-organisation Jerusalem Ed-Tech Solutions (Jets), involves web seminars, online mentoring and a second, concluding conference. It is sponsored by one of the best-known investors in Jewish education, the Pincus Fund and a second cohort will begin in autumn.

“I did think I was quite good at tech,” said one participant. “But when I came here, I saw how much more there is.”

One group of teachers devised a Tu Bishvat game for their children, another educator produced an online resource for his Talmud students.

“It’s vital for us as Jewish educators to use these tools to reach children in their language,” Mrs Kanzen said. “We’re already a generation behind where we should be.”
The programme is sign of Ji’s increasing international presence, which now encompasses 600 schools and 200 synagogues in 48 countries. Reaching 50,000 children makes it “the largest Jewish school in the world,” she said.

Ji has been asked to run the technology area for the American Jewish day school conference in a few weeks.

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