The Jewish Agency for Israel says the Israeli government will allocate up to NIS 9 million ($2.48 million) in the coming years to its Partnership Unit’s Global School Twinning Network, primarily to fund the expansion of the groundbreaking educational initiative that cultivates Israel-Diaspora connectedness.

The Global School Twinning Network, which successfully operates on the Jewish Agency’s Partnership2Gether Platform, connects hundreds of schools in Israel with those worldwide. In the 2017-18 academic year, the network included more than 600 schools, and some 50,000 students and 2,000 teachers. School twinning changes the way these students and teachers perceive their roles as members of an international Jewish community, as it fosters dynamic dialogue on Israel and Jewish identity, and brings the Hebrew language alive.

The partnership and investment by the Israeli Ministry of Education and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs represent “an important recognition that the program is impactful on students and teachers in both Israel and the Diaspora,” said Andrea Arbel, director of the Partnership Unit at the Jewish Agency. “Twinning brings the ethos of partnerships and Jewish peoplehood to schools around the world, and it is extremely gratifying and exciting that the State of Israel will partner with us to take this initiative to the next level.”

With the new funding, the network will be able to expand to 500 more educational twinnings, and support the development of new pedagogical and curricular resources, online teacher training, branding and more.

The ministries are bringing the added twinnings to students in grades four to 10. Parent-teacher association sessions and other gatherings will also feature discussions on global Jewry and Israel-Diaspora relationships.

In many cases, school twinning is integrated into a community-wide P2G relationship, the Jewish Agency’s strategic initiative that connects 46 city-to-city and region-to-region partnerships. These personal interactions engage 350,000 Israelis and other Jews each year.

At the same time, a growing number of school twinnings are taking place in communities outside of the P2G existing relationship in the former Soviet Union, Latin America and Europe.