Teachers’ Lounge Engages Jewish and Arab Teachers in Trust-building - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Teachers’ Lounge Engages Jewish and Arab Teachers in Trust-building

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Despite the COVID-induced social distancing, participants in the sixth cohort of the Teachers' Lounge rallied to complete the program and celebrated its culmination at a virtual closing ceremony on June 4, 2020, attended by educators, friends, and supporters across Jerusalem and around the world.

Founded in memory of Shira Banki, the Teachers' Lounge is a signature program of the Taube Family Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, engaging Arab and Jewish teachers from across Jerusalem in a year of sustained professional learning and relationship-building around their shared passion for teaching. Throughout the year, the teachers go through a profound process of exploring their personal, professional, and cultural identities and discussing common educational challenges. The experience of meeting with “the Other” is conducted with a variety of tools such as theater, art, and photography, and includes joint tours of the city of Jerusalem.

This year, 50 teachers from 31 different schools across the city of Jerusalem completed the program. Each “lounge” consists of a mix of 15-20 Jewish and Arab teachers, plus two facilitators, one Arab and one Jewish. They meet 10 times during the course of the year. They began the year meeting in participants’ living rooms, on campus, and Jerusalem’s holy sites, but unfortunately were later confined to virtual meetings due to the pandemic.

Founded by visionary educator and professor Dr. Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Director of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem’s Department of Professional Development and Education, the program is directed by Anat Infeld Goodman. Teachers' Lounge is accredited by the Israeli Ministry of Education. 

The program builds on the belief that teachers and educators can be leaders and cultural heroes who serve as a personal example in each sector and community; through their relationships with one another, a vision for a more hopeful future can emerge.

The meetings allow for instant personal encounters and for sharing of narratives that create, first and foremost, human and social closeness and a sense of partnership and an educational mission.

Every year the program produces a photography exhibition that captures the relationships and reflections that emerge from this powerful experience. The exhibition has been featured in prominent places in Jerusalem. The annual photography exhibition of the program can be viewed here.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu