As part of the commitment of the Mandel Foundation-Israel to the future of the Jewish people, the Mandel School for Educational Leadership devoted a week-long program to issues of Jewish identity in Israel and the Diaspora.
According to the program's organizer, Rabbi Dr. Vered Sakal, the goal was to develop an independent, positive, pluralistic view of Jewish identity among the fellows and to understand how this identity forms part of each fellow's educational vision and work.
Jewish Peoplehood Week, which took place March 23–29, consisted of three days of concentrated studies followed by a weekend for the fellows and faculty. The program was based on a dual format: a shared learning component with all the fellows, which included introductory discussions, and learning tracks in small groups, where fellows engaged in study and creative activity while exploring a specific perspective or question. The closing session, with the participation of MK Ruth Calderon, commentator Yoav Sorek, and Rabbi Haim Amsalem, examined the meaning of being Jewish in Israel today.
The small group learning track entitled "Curriculum for a Nation" was led by
Dr. Daniel Marom. This workshop challenged the “tired categories” that guide the thinking and educational activity with regard to Jewish peoplehood today, and sought to create a model for educational activity based on fresh approaches.
Designer and artist
Dov Abramson led a creative workshop entitled "Let’s Put It All on the Table," which dealt with the visual-artistic dimension of Jewish culture. The artistic products of the workshop were displayed at the Mandel Leadership Institute on the final day of the program.
Yael Bar-Lev led a track on "Shared Creative Space" as a guiding principle for understanding situations and processes, and functioning in a diverse society. In this track, participants were introduced to models of shared spaces and points of intersection, and grappled with the questions, choices, and concessions entailed in creative activity and in sustaining these spaces over time.
To conclude Jewish Peoplehood Week, the fellows gathered for Shabbat at Kfar Maccabiah, experiencing the different lifestyles of the fellows and faculty through a range of Orthodox, liberal, and secular activities. As
Rabbi Dr. Sakal put it, this “enabled the fellows to observe Shabbat in their own way, but also encouraged them to venture into new territory and acknowledge the existence of a fascinating spectrum of Jewishness in Israel.”