About 130 Israeli teaching emissaries (Morim Shlichim) working in American schools met at a conference organized by the education department of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) earlier this month to discuss their experiences teaching and representing Israel in diverse diaspora environments.
The wide range of WZO emissaries came from different backgrounds and streams of Judaism and work with both Jewish and non-Jewish students in North America.
The emissaries discussed how they handled teaching in diverse environments, with students from a range of streams of Judaism and different backgrounds. They also expressed the difficulties and advantages of teaching in these environments.
The teachers also pointed out the influence they have in affecting how students see Israel, with one emissary describing how a student came up to them and told them that he "no longer hated Israel."
"The work of the emissaries has a huge impact not only on the students but on broad circles concerning the tens of thousands of people who receive vital information about Judaism and Israel," said Gael Grunewald, deputy chairman of the WZO and chairman of the education department. "The investment in you is an investment in the future of the Jewish people, the better teachers you are, the more connected you are to students, teachers, parents and the community so your impact will increase. Our idea is to bring the word of Israel and Judaism to youth abroad."
"Our emissaries come from all backgrounds and shades of Israeli society and teach American students Israeli poetry, Israeli holidays, places in the country, geography, climate, make them familiar with Israel so that they receive information from accessible and reliable educational sources," added Grunewald.
Representatives of the Keren Kayemeth L'Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL–JNF) and WZO chairman Yaakov Haogel participated in the conference as well.