The Federation’s Holy Land Democracy Project (HLDP) has been enlightening teachers from all over the greater Los Angeles area. Each year, a group of educators is selected to participate in this transformative experience. More than 221 educators have participated in this project from over 101 public, religious, or charter schools and city colleges all around Los Angeles. Since 2004, educators have participated in the HLDP to promote and educate their students about Israel’s importance through an interactive curriculum and a personal perspective.
HLDP participants visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and many more locations throughout this 9-day life-changing journey in Israel. In return, every educator receives a specially created curriculum, The Many Faces of Israel, which they will integrate with the core subjects in their classrooms for a period of five years. Lesson plans and other resources, created or provided by the Holy Land Democracy Project staff, are available to, and from, all teachers who have participated in HLDP.
Before heading off to Israel, participants complete a weekend retreat and seminar where they learn about Judaism, the Jewish People, and the history of the modern Middle East, as well as familiarize themselves with the Many Faces curriculum to learn about Israel and the upcoming trip. One participant said, “The weekend retreat before the trip was very helpful in trying to create relationships amongst the group and give us a background on Israel.”
After time spent in Israel, participants returned to L.A. equipped with knowledge and experience to share with their students. When reflecting on the trip, one participant said, “The whole trip gave me a much more nuanced and deep appreciation for the country of Israel, the challenge that it faces, and what it means to so many people. I want to share the story of Israel with my students, but I have to share multiple stories to do it justice.”
The itinerary is packed with many sites and activities. Some of the highlights include visiting the Yad Vashem (The World Holocaust Remembrance Center), Independence Hall, a community close to the border with Gaza, the Golan Heights, and a day visiting Palestinian leaders and sites in the West Bank. All the while, everyone enjoying one phenomenal meal after another. One participant said, “I feel this HLDP program is absolutely phenomenal; it has changed my life. The whole concept of it is brilliant — what an extremely generous and creative way to expose all kinds of people (teachers) to Israel and afford us with an abundant array of resources and experiences in order to pass on the good and true, while not shying away from the hard and real and complex.” Another HLDP participant described his experience by saying, “I feel like we got 3-4 weeks of Israel in 10 days.” After the trip, another teacher reflected and said, “The situation is much more complex than I ever thought. I was struck by how emotional the trip was for me.”
To learn more, please visit www.JewishLA.org/program/holy-land-democracy-project