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A new building to be constructed on the north campus of Bar-Ilan University will be home to an ambitious new project to create an international hub for Jewish education expertise.
The seven-story 6,000-square-meter Jim Joseph Jewish Education and Values Building "will be the largest educational institution dealing with the challenges of the Jewish people," Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh told The Jerusalem Post .
It will be funded by an $18 million donation, the largest single project gift in the university's history, from the Jim Joseph Foundation, an American philanthropy that supports Jewish education projects.
The center will be large not only in physical size, but also in scope. Armed with state-of-the-art distance learning technology, it will bring the collective wisdom of Bar-Ilan's educators and experts to communities around the world, offering expertise in curriculum development, upgrading of teachers and administrators, techniques in the classroom and more.
The goal, according to a university representative, will be to "revitalize Jewish schools in the Diaspora and strengthen Diaspora pupils' sense of connection to their Jewish heritage."
In addition, the building will house an on-line research and "responsa" system through which Jewish educators around the world will be able to submit a question or problem related to their field and receive a response from Bar-Ilan experts within 24 hours. A specially-trained team of some 50 experts already answers thousands of questions each month submitted through the Web site of the university's Lookstein Center for Jewish Education, an institution that would move into the new building.
"Every problem in the Jewish world - if we've identified it - we'll research and track it and solve it," promised Kaveh.
The center's endowment program will bring educators and youth from around the Jewish world to study at the university's School of Education, Israel's largest, for a year. This will "establish connections with Jewish communities around the world to develop formal and informal Jewish education in those communities," Kaveh said, "and there will be procedures for follow-up on what they achieved."
The center will house a library, lecture halls, meeting rooms, laboratories, and administrative and faculty offices.