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Jewish learning Hebrew College MaTaRoT Teams with the National Library of Israel

By Joshua Polanski

“Once a source comes to life, it creates a spark of connection between past and present,” notes Shuvi Hoffman, the National Library of Israel (NLI)’s global Jewish education manager. Joining together with the NLI this Yom HaZikaron, MaTaRoT: Hebrew College’s Center for Jewish Professional Learning & Leadership will offer a free Zoom workshop for Jewish education professionals that will help educators use the library’s resources to recreate these sparks in their own classrooms as schools commemorate Israel’s Memorial and Independence Day. The workshop, which dives into NLI’s Yom HaZikaron resources, takes place from 12–1 p.m. EST on April 25, 2023.

The free workshop has the potential to transform Jewish classrooms of all age levels. “We are very excited about our partnership with the National Library of Israel,” said Hebrew College Vice President Dr. Susie Tanchel. “As the Library has newly digitized its documents, the educators we serve will now have access to historical documents that heretofore have been unavailable to them. This will enrich their teaching and thus the educational experiences of so many young Jews in the greater Boston community, as it strengthens their connection to the State of Israel.” Example resources available on the Library’s site are pictured to the right (stamp) and below (poem).

Marion Gribetz, the director of educational initiatives at Hebrew College, added, “What is amazing about this is that the NLI is the largest repository of Judaica in the world, and many of its treasures are digitized. The NLI is committed to making these resources as meaningful and accessible to people all around the world.”

The NLI is committed to digitizing its resources, which include but are not limited to photographs, newspapers, manuscripts, music, ephemera, archives, and over four million books. Additionally, they have made available an easy to use and diverse collection of pedagogical materials, such as downloadable pre-made lesson plans and educational activities. “The library isn’t just for academics and researchers. It’s for students, it’s for teachers, it’s for the curious, it’s for family genealogists. It’s really for everyone and we want them to know that,” added Sarah Palmer, the partnerships and community engagement manager at NLI USA.

Shuvi Hoffman designed much of the educational resources with the intention of enlivening Israel and Jewish history and culture for students and educators. “The primary sources housed at the Library inspire us to create lesson plans, activities, webinars, seminars, fellowships, residencies, and other learning opportunities for educators; for young students and for scholars; for teachers in Israel and globally,” said Hoffman.

“The library is in a state of renewal as it prepares to open a new building in 2023. Twenty-first century libraries are now cultural centers that not only serve researchers but are places where the broader public can meaningfully engage in learning in a variety of ways, including through concerts, festivals, book readings, programs, and exhibitions—both online and in-person,” said Adina Kanefield, the NLI USA CEO.

“The education department’s mission is to present primary sources in a way that brings the past to life and exposes learners to the personal stories behind historical events,” added Hoffman. “The Library is committed to making its resources as accessible as possible. One exciting new initiative that teachers can take advantage of is an exhibition of highlights from the Library’s collections with accompanying resources for educators.”

“There are many complex layers to Israel and Yom HaZikaron,” said Palmer. “Using primary sources from the library which engage students with these layers can make a big difference in the classroom.”

Featured image credit © Herzog & de Meuron

Learn more about the Library from the NLI USA site or from the Library site. NLI USA is the Library’s affiliate, which builds support in the United States for the National Library of Israel to enhance and expand the impact of the Library’s collections, cultural programs, and educational resources.

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