AMIT, a nonprofit organization that serves 40,000 students each year across 96 schools in 32 cities throughout Israel, hosted the official groundbreaking for the new Kfar Batya campus on May 10, despite incoming missile attacks. AMIT executives and local officials collectively decided to proceed with the event on May 10, to demonstrate Israel’s resilience and allow the campus to serve as a signal for an even stronger Israel ahead.
“We considered canceling the ceremony. One-third of the country was taking shelter and the Iron Dome was active overhead. After consulting with Israel’s home command, we decided that the groundbreaking must proceed because it’s exactly what Israel and its citizens need. The significant investment being made in Israel’s education system through AMIT Kfar Batya will play a key role in securing Israel’s future,” said AMIT’s Executive Vice President, Andrew Goldsmith.
“The AMIT administration, thousands of teachers, and tens of thousands of students thank AMIT’s many supporters and friends, who had a vision 98 years ago to change and better Israeli society through education, and today, are implementing that dream and changing the face of education in Israel,” said Dr. Amnon Eldar, Director General of AMIT.
The ceremony began with an official groundbreaking on the future Kfar Batya campus grounds, emceed by Rav Yoni Berlin, Principal of AMIT Gwen Straus Jr. & Sr. Science High School for boys. Speakers of the night included Yaakov Hagoel, Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, Ilana Nulman, Ministry of Education representative, and Debbie Isaac, AMIT Chair of the Land Committee and Past President. The highlight of the ceremony was the signing of the scroll by mission donors and VIPs, followed by a photo opportunity with golden shovels for the groundbreaking, with the Mayor of Ra’anana, Chaim Broyde, Director General of AMIT Educational Network, Dr. Amnon Eldar, AMIT President Audrey Axelrod Trachtman, AMIT Executive Vice President, Andrew Goldsmith, and AMIT Chair of the Land Committee and Past President, Debbie Isaac.
Following the groundbreaking ceremony, the celebratory dinner featured a Torch lighting ceremony with four AMIT graduates representing different fields, including Alon Arvatz, CEO & Co-founder @ Stealth, AMIT Gwen & Joseph Straus Afikim B’negev Elementary School, representing the field of entrepreneurship; Daniel Shapira, Pilot, Israeli Air Force, AMIT Ginsburg Bar Ilan Gush Dan Jr. & Sr. High School for Boys, representing the field of security/IDF; Nurit Davidi, Principal, Dina and Moses Dyckman Ulpanat AMIT in Beersheva, representing the field of education; and Simcha Asarsei, AMIT Kfar Blatt, representing the field of finance. Additionally, Dr. Amnon Eldar also lit a torch with his parents on behalf of past and present AMIT educators in the AMIT Network. Other torch lighters included Audrey Axelrod Trachtman, AMIT President, and Tamar Benovitz, Chair of Israel Amutah, representing lay leadership in the USA and Israel; Evan and Layla Green, The Evan and Layla Green Family Foundation Gogya Building, representing thousands of AMIT donors; Head of Department, Drone Integration, Israel Defense Forces, Yair Alkalai, on behalf of all AMIT fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
“I was privileged to be a student of AMIT when my parents immigrated from Morocco,” said Nurit Davidi, Principal of Dina and Moses Dyckman Ulpanat AMIT in Beersheva. “As I made my way in the educational world, the AMIT network provided me with the best opportunities for excellence. This organization is a powerful force with the potential to shape not just our country’s future but the world. I am deeply honored to have been given this opportunity and extend my heartfelt gratitude to all involved.”
The evening featured a musical accompaniment by the AMIT Makif-Yud Ashdod choir, a choir comprised of special education and mainstream students. The celebratory dinner speakers were the Mayor of Ra’anana, Chaim Broyde, and AMIT President Audrey Axelrod Trachtman. The evening closed with a prayer recitation for the State of Israel and HaTikva.
Simcha Assarsai, AMIT Graduate now a mother of two, said, “My journey began at the age of four when I left Ethiopia on foot. At the age of 16, I joined the AMIT family, and my connection with them lasted for 23 years. During my time with AMIT, I received an education that shaped my values and gave me the tools to develop and achieve success. It was my honor and joy to be a part of the AMIT family and to light a torch for the opening of the new AMIT campus that will provide a home for youth who, like me, need love, values, and hope to dream big.”
According to Dr. Amnon Eldar, Director General of the AMIT Educational Network, the new AMIT Kfar Byata campus will impact the entire education system in Israel. AMIT Gogya R&D Center for Innovation in Education, will service AMIT’s 6,000 teachers from across the country and others from outside of the network and will serve as an accelerator of an educational revolution, transitioning schools from traditional, 19th-century models to the world of tomorrow.
AMIT’s pedagogical dream stems from the understanding that learning today is entirely different than it was 50 years ago. Students now have smartphones that contain easily accessible information about content being taught. Students can sit at home and learn all the school subjects in a hybrid manner, through video and online channels.
In 2014, AMIT launched a new methodology called Gogya as a vision to change Israel’s education system through a 21st-century lens focused on preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s economic, technological, and societal shifts. At the heart of the educational approach is the understanding that a teacher must transition from a transmitter of knowledge to a mentor who guides and accompanies the student in goal setting and dreaming and then realizing these dreams and goals.
On AMIT’s new campus, there will be unique educational programs that develop an entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and collaboration among students while maximizing each staff member’s unique talents and strengths. Learning will be done through a connection to the local and regional ecosystems, exposing students to the real world around them and allowing them to engage in a relevant and meaningful way, dealing with issues that challenge our day-to-day lives. Students will spend some of their school days learning at hospitals, universities, high-tech companies, and other locations that allow for real-world learning.
“The construction of this campus sends a strong message that innovative education requires a holistic approach,” adds AMIT President Audrey Axelrod Trachtman. “It can’t only be about teaching methods or content. It also needs to be about the physical space which is a major component of the learning experience. AMIT has many innovative Gogya spaces in our schools throughout Israel. With the new campus, we will now have a real-life laboratory to evaluate all aspects of learning, including educational architecture,” says Trachtman.
AMIT’s new cutting-edge Gogya R&D Center for Innovation in Education on the Kfar Batya campus will serve as an incubator for the development and implementation of new academic frameworks and train thousands of teachers each year. Academic excellence grounded in AMIT’s Torah values will continue to be the focus, with the singular goal of leveling the playing field for all Israeli children regardless of socio-economic background, disability, or personal challenges.
The new campus will feature The Evan and Layla Green Family Foundation Gogya Building and Program, The Educators’ Innovation Center, AMIT Headquarters, Community Athletic Complex, The Gwen Straus Junior and Senior High School for Boys, Elementary School, Welcome Center, Memorial Park for Fallen Soldiers, and Outdoor Amphitheater.
To learn more about AMIT Kfar Batya and to donate, visit www.kfarbatya.org