My daughter, Madeleine, and her new friend, Adi, from Israel sit across the table from me and I am completely overwhelmed with the ease in their conversation. My daughter is speaking Hebrew and her friend is speaking English. Five days ago, they didn’t even know each other. Our school Pressman Academy is twinned with the Magen School in Tel Aviv, Israel. This year, fourteen Israeli students are here for 10 day learning how American Jewish kids live, learn, and celebrate their Jewish life. Each student stays with a host and is also given an additional co-host. For the week, the kids do different activities. We celebrate Chanukah, Shabbat and show off some tourist sites in see Los Angeles. Some went to see the Space Shuttle, some went to Venice, some walked around the Grove and they all went go to Universal Studios together. This was Adi’s first time in Los Angeles and she loved it. Though life is different than her homeland, her new friends seem so much like her. By the end of the 10 days, the kids had bonded with their new friends and tears were shed as they said goodbye.
As a Federation professional, I always thought highly of this program. The partnership reaches wide in the community and its impact on families here and in Israel is tangible. Many of my friends remain in close contact with those kids they hosted throughout the years. Now, as a parent, I am witnessing the power of friendship and the beauty of different cultures coming together. Our children learn about Israel every day, learn to speak the language and study the heroes of the Bible and those who helped to create the state. Meeting their peers makes all this education real for them and brings it to life.
In April, our students will travel to Israel to see how their Israeli peers live, learn and celebrate their Jewish life. My daughter will get to see places that I have talked about, places she read about in her books and see for herself how her peers express their Judaism.
Thank you to The Jewish Federation, Pressman Academy and to all our partners, parents and kids who turned strangers into friends and brought their education to life.
The Jewish Federation’s School Twinning Program, is the only initiative in existence that connects schools in Los Angeles with schools in Tel Aviv. This powerful program has made an impact on the lives of 60,000 students, parents, and faculty through jointly prepared curricula, teacher training, and delegation exchanges. The program strengthens our shared Jewish identity, while fulfilling our Federation’s mission of ensuring the Jewish future. Click here for more information on The Jewish Federation’s School Twinning Program, or contact Ahuva Ron at (323) 761-8332 or Aron@JewishLA.org.