Every year on Yom Ha’Atzmaut we ask our students how many people have been to Israel — it’s overwhelming to see the number of hands that go up. Our families go to Israel, support Israeli causes, and are deeply connected to Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael. The Global Twinning program became a natural extension of our community’s already strong bond with Israel for the past five years of our partnership with The Jewish Federation.
As the coordinator of the program, I immediately recognized the unique opportunity I have to connect not only the students to other Israeli youngsters their age, but also to connect staff members at Wise School with Israeli educators and families — relational Israel at its best both for kids and adults. My school embraced the idea and was willing to invest all necessary resources to enable other members of staff to experience Israel through the lens of 6th grade delegates. What happened was truly remarkable. The program transformed not only the delegates, but also our staff members.
The following quotes from adults and student delegates illustrate the power of the program:
“We live in our Los Angeles bubble, so living/teaching/learning alongside my fellow administrators and students allowed me to broaden my perspective on academic and experiential learning. I watched my students flourish in their host homes as they authentically lived the life of an Israeli elementary school student. In addition, this experience opened my eyes to a broader world mission. We all care deeply about children and our Jewish experience in the world. This experience was meaningful for our students and the team of educators who had the opportunity to participate.” – Pam Kleinman, Assistant Head of Wise School
“This program made me feel a strong connection with my people and helped me form my Jewish identity. It’s one thing to talk about and learn about Israel, but you feel a special connection once you get to go there. The second you step off the plane you feel a strong Jewish connection.” – Jack-Wise Elharizi, delegate 2016
“I had the privilege of joining the delegation in 2018. I had always heard it was a wonderful program, but after experiencing it with the children, I have become one of the biggest boosters at our school. The students truly lived the life of a Tel Aviv child. They fell in love with the city. They didn’t want to come home! This is 100% a different experience than they would have traveling with their family. I cannot recommend it more highly.” – Beth Behar, Director of Admission at Wise School
“My most memorable experience through this program was staying overnight in the Negev. It was so different than anything I have ever experienced. I tried new foods, got to sleep in a Bedouin tent, and even got to ride a camel. The best thing was that Tomer and I experienced it all together. We still talk about it when we FaceTime each other.” – Dylan-Wise Elharizi, delegate 2018
“I was impacted by the connections and relationships that my students and I developed with our Israeli partners, their families, and their school leaders. We learned through our journey that we care deeply about the people of Israel, have a history that is ours too, and shared experiences and understanding. We have made lifelong friends who can always continue supporting each other and strengthening our ties as friends and nations.” – Patty Tanner, 6th Grade General Studies and Math Coordinator at Wise School
The Global Teen Twinning program is the most powerful and impactful program in creating enduring relationships between Jewish people in the diaspora and the people of Israel. Being an Israeli, I have watched in awe as this program unfolded, touched lives, and transformed our personal and communal Israel narratives.
Malka Clement is the Global Teen Twinning Coordinator for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles at Wise School and the School’s Director of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. The Jewish Federation’s Global Teen Twinning Program (GTTP) is the largest student delegation program in the Jewish world. Every year, 600 students in 6th-10th grades from 30 schools in Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, and Vilnius, Lithuania participate in this transformative program. To learn more about the Federation’s Global Teen Twinning Program, please visit www.JewishLA.org.