Written by Laurie Rappeport, JETS Instructor
According to recent studies online education is becoming increasingly popular among learners worldwide. College-level studies went online almost as soon as the Internet began to be widely used and, over the course of the last decade, high school, middle school and elementary school studies have become more readily available on the web as well.
Jewish education has been slower to integrate online learning into their educational models but today, almost all non-Haredi Jewish Day Schools are including some kind of online Jewish learning in their curriculum. In addition, many Jewish homeschooling families, afternoon Hebrew schools and Jewish families living in remote communities where there are no formal Jewish schools are employing online Jewish learning as a tool which introduces Hebrew studies and Jewish education to their students.
JETS Jerusalem EdTech Solutions has been offering a variety of online Jewish learning opportunities since 2009. The program was begun as a vehicle by which Israel-based teachers could share Jewish and Hebrew studies with students from around the world.
JETS web-based learning can be employed in multiple situations including as enrichment for Day School or afternoon Hebrew School classes, as a bridge between Jewish classrooms outside of Israel and Israeli classes and as a core Jewish learning program for pre-teens and teens who either don’t have access to any community Jewish school or who don’t fit into the existing Hebrew/Jewish schools of their areas.
JETS courses include Hip Hop Hebraics in which students learn modern, conversational Hebrew in a vibrant and meaningful format of dynamic fun. Older day school students can delve into core curriculum studies, such as Talmud and other Jewish textual studies with an Israel-based teacher who brings the material alive as the class examines the significance of the ancient texts in today’s world.
Other popular courses include Contemporary Jewish Issues, a five-part series on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Ancient Israel (a series of videos and related activities to enrich students’ background on lifestyles in ancient times), Jewish holidays and more.
JETS is a non-denominational program. Classes are taught in a pluralistic format that is inclusive of all Jewish streams of thought. JETS presents Israel from a Zionistic perspective which encourages students to relate to Israel as an integral part of their own lives.
JETS also offers the wide-ranging JConnecT program of Online Sunday School. The JConnect program presents Hebrew/Jewish studies for students who want to learn about Judaism and Israel as they access the “classroom” from their own home. This program, recently profiled by the Jewish Military organization Jews in Green, enables students to join the back-to-back classes of Hip Hop Hebraics and Contemporary Jewish Issues (choose both classes or just one class) which meet, virtually, every Sunday morning during the school year. The classes are appropriate Jewish learning opportunities for Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, both before and after the actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah date, as a Jewish Identity component of their Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs. Upcoming free Open Houses enable students, their families and other community members to participate in a class and experience the power of online Jewish learning.
The next scheduled free JConnecT Open House will take place on May 19th.