iMMERSE News

For Immediate Release

Meet Israel’s Olympic Athletes

IMMERSE Initiative Releases Video Interviews with Israel’s Best

As the world gears up for the summer Olympic Games, 38 Israelis are preparing to compete in events including swimming, tennis, gymnastics, judo, sailing, and windsurfing. Like all Olympians, these Israelis have powerful stories to tell: stories of dedication, achievement, and overcoming obstacles. And now, their stories and complementary educational materials are available for Jewish summer camps, educators in synagogues, youth groups, and schools thanks to a new video series from the IMMERSE initiative of the iCenter and ISRAEL21c.

Leading up to the opening of the games on July 27, a series of interviews with 12 of Israel’s Olympians will stream on olympics.israel21c.org

“These videos highlight the experiences and reflections of Israel’s elite athletes and are powerful tools in building stronger relationships between North Americans and Israelis,” says Anne Lanski, executive director of the iCenter.

“Joining together with the iCenter to produce this special feature on the Israeli Olympic team is a wonderful way to enable kids and their families to get to know Israel and Israelis,” says Amy Friedkin, president of the board of ISRAEL21c.

The video series is part of the iMMERSE initiative of the iCenter and ISRAEL21c. iMMERSE is aimed primarily at students in grades 4 to 12, their teachers and parents. The initiative offers a confluence of stories, news and educational materials that highlight trendsetting developments, cultural achievements, technological and scientific innovations in ways that speak to students’ lives and sensibilities today. Study materials are included with the Olympic athlete interviews to help educators use the videos in a wide range of settings.

For all educational materials, please visit www.theicenter.org/olympics. For full coverage on Israel at the 2012 Olympic games, please visit olympics.israel21c.org.

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Glenn Rosenkrantz
646.245.8975, glenn.rosenkrantz@gmail.com

NEW INITIATIVE TO STRENGTHEN ISRAEL EDUCATION IN NORTH AMERICA

iMMERSE is Joint Project of ISRAEL21c and the iCenter

April 30, 2011 – A new initiative strengthening Israel education for 21st century students by injecting new themes into classroom discussions, and utilizing new technologies to do it, is being launched by Israel 21c and the iCenter, officials of both organizations announced today.

The new initiative – iMMERSE – is aimed primarily at students in grades 4 to 12, their teachers and parents, and will deliver stories and news from Israel highlighting trendsetting developments, cultural achievements, technological and scientific innovations, and more, in ways that speak to students’ lives and sensibilities today, and through digital mediums they understand.

“Teaching Israel by focusing on its religious significance and its history is no longer enough,” said Amy Friedkin, Chair of ISRAEL21c. “Students today thirst for information and perspectives to which they can visually and contextually relate as they begin to develop a meaningful and relevant relationship with Israel. iMMERSE is a significant step in this direction.”

The iMMERSE initiative will consist of regularly issued dynamic videos and other digital products, combined with study guides to prompt discussion – all living and accessible on the web, mobile devices, and social media channels, and actively distributed to tens of thousands of subscribers in schools and communal organizations.

The first, pegged to Yom HaAtzmaut, was issued last week. A visually engaging and fast-moving two-and-a-half-minute video – Made in Israel – highlights some of 64 selected products and innovations originated in Israel, from 3D technology used in Xbox and Playstation gaming devices, to engineering applied to electric cars, to the world’s most popular cherry tomato.

An accompanying study guide offers 13 approaches for discussion and use of the video with targeted age groups and in various settings, from schools and youth groups, to congregations and other venues.

iMMERSE joins two organizations with deep roots in Israel education and Israel-focused content creation.

The iCenter works to advance excellence and innovation in the field of pre-collegiate Israel education in North America and is a catalyst for building, shaping and supporting the field. ISRAEL21c produces original reporting from Israel – in the form of articles, videos and digital products highlighting developments in technology, health, culture, the environment, social action and other areas.

“Most young people learn about Israel through the media, and they may not have a real understanding of the relevancy of Israel to their own lives and to the world,” said Lisa Eisen, National Director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Chair of the iCenter.

“Marrying the pioneering educational approach of the iCenter with the innovative content of ISRAEL21c, we can bring the story of a dynamic, vibrant Israel to students and others in a way that is meaningful, resonant and exciting.”

Educators using the first segment say the iMMERSE materials are reinvigorating classroom discussions about Israel and that the unique subject matter, combined with the technology and study guide, is working to reach and engage students in a new way.

“We are used to talking about Israel in terms of the Bible and its establishment and history, but we must view Israel and also teach it as a modern and vibrant society that has a positive effect on everyday lives,” said Anne Berman-Waldorf, Director of Lifelong Education at Congregation Beth Chaim in Princeton Junction, NJ.

Berman used the inaugural Made in Israel video and lesson plans with 200 students in grades 4 to 6 in the congregation’s religious school, and the video was shown to congregants before and after Shabbat services.

“This is very unique,” she said. “There are lots of educational materials about Israel as the Jewish homeland, but this presents it and equips educators to teach it in a way that really speaks to students now. It’s hip, cool, engaging and upbeat, and it got our students talking and excited.”

iMMERSE lives at ISRAEL21c here, and at the iCenter here.