Learning Through Experience with IsraelNow

Posted on 02/03/2023 @ 05:00 AM

Tags: IsraelNow, Teen Education & Engagement

Our strongest memories are often embedded in our minds because of their connection to our senses: Sight, Touch, Smell, Taste, and Hearing.
Have you ever had a food that you hadn’t eaten since you were a child and with that first bite, your brain is flooded with pictures and emotions from childhood?
What about a smell that reminds you of a particular season or location? Or a song that makes you think of a particular person or moment in time?
Because experiential education is extremely effective with our younger generations, CAJE runs three different programs with sensory education in mind: the Leo Martin March of the Living for 12th graders, the Diller Teen Fellows program for 11th & 10th graders, and IsraelNow for 8th graders.
When producing quality experiential education programs, CAJE’s goal is to bring learning into the moment with the use of our senses to help connect the learner to the experience that are rich and lasting.

John Dewey wrote, “There is an intimate and necessary relation between the process of actual experience and education.” (1938)

In the years since Dewey first penned these words, studies have repeatedly confirmed that students are more likely to retain what they’ve learned when they are actively engaged in a learning experience.
CAJE recently hosted a workshop for teens from across Miami for an immersive day of experiential learning before they travel together this March on Miami’s IsraelNow program.
Our IsraelNow teens participated in an array of activities designed to help them connect to their senses, connect to Israel, and connect to one another.

Created in Chicago, IsraelNow is an immersive travel experience for eighth graders who are not enrolled in a Jewish day school. It has a proven record of success in getting teens to fall in love with Israel and then become active participants in community programs upon their return.
Last year, we ran a pilot trip for Miami IsraelNow with 10 community eighth graders.
This year, we increased our IsraelNow numbers by 160% and now have 26 teens participating in the program.
The group is diverse and represent all the major areas of Miami: North Dade, South Dade, and the Beach/Central areas. They belong to 7 different synagogues (7 are unaffiliated), and they attend 14 different middle schools.

Connecting teens from 7 different synagogues and 14 different middle schools.
Participants loved making their own hummus!

The recent workshop included interactive icebreakers, learning about Israel, and a variety of experiences to connect students with their five senses. For example, participants made their own hummus, which they loved doing.
IsraelNow participants also acted out their own TikTok challenge to build up their excitement, researched what they do not know about Israel that they are interested in learning, and discussed social justice issues they are passionate about by engaging in a thoughtful conversation around the similarities between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The teens are eager to travel with each other to Israel this March over Spring Break
We look forward to continuing to facilitate an immersive, sensory learning experience for our IsraelNow teens and the teens at all of our other outstanding programs. 

If you know a rising 8th grader (entering 8th grade in the Fall of 2023) who does not attend a Jewish Day School, please forward this article to them. Applications for the 2024 trip will open this Summer. 

For more information about IsraelNow, please contact Claudine Ackerman claudineackerman@caje-miami.org.