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University of Haifa joins iCenter's Master's Concentration program

University of Haifa is the latest to join a network of universities from the United States and Israel that work together to promote education about Israel. The iCenter's Master's Concentration in Israel Education program works to create systemic change in education about Israel and the role of Israel in Jewish life. The University of Haifa's Ruderman Program is the latest to join. 

It brings together graduate students in Jewish education, rabbinic studies, non-profit management and other similar fields from 13 universities in North America and Israel. “The human connection in the program, especially this year, was really important,” says Ofer Chizik of the Ruderman Program at University of Haifa who is earning his Master’s Degree in Jewish American Studies. “I’ve built friendships and learned with other leaders who bring both similar and different perspectives on Jewish values and peoplehood – it’s a very powerful experience.”

The students are from different denominations and carry a diversity of opinions, but come together within the Master's Concentration program as one unit based on a shared commitment to and passion for Jewish education and Israel. 

The program integrates academic study, mentorship, learning opportunities in Israel, and creation of a final Israel education project that the students present.  “The program is a very Israel-forward space,” adds Marlene Artov, who is earning her Master’s in Public Administration at the NYU Wagner School. “We don’t all have to agree, but when the goal is to elevate Israel educational experiences based on strengthening people’s connection to Israel, then we as educators can have conversations about different ways to approach that goal.”

Chizik and Artov speak once a week, sharing what they've learned from the program and what they are learning in university. Like their fellow cohort members, they have unprecedented access to a national network of experts in the field. When they graduate, they will join an alumni community that ensures a framework allowing graduates to share ideas, resources and experiences, and to work in the field. 

“We’re working to create systemic change in how Israel education is defined, approached and integrated into every area of Jewish education throughout North America,” according to Rachel See, who oversees the iFellows program. “As our youngest learners come of age in what can be a challenging environment around Israel, this work of building meaningful relationships with Israel and Israelis is more timely and urgent than ever.”