More than three thousand global educators, Jewish leaders and EdTech executives participated in the two-day “Zoom Out” e-summit to re-imagine the future of education hosted by the Israeli-American Council (IAC) and Tel Aviv University Online (TAU) – Innovative Learning Center last week.

Participating in the e-summit were EdTech execs such as Kristen DiCerbo, Chief Learning Officer at Khan Academy; John Schwartz, Head of Enterprise Global Business Development at edX; Erica Lockheimer, VP at LinkedIn Learning; alongside academics Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University; Prof. Katherine E. Fleming, Provost at New York University; Prof. Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University; and social entrepreneurs, such as Adi Altschuler, Founder and CEO, Inclu-Special for All and Founder of Krembo Wings and Zikaron Basalon, among many more.

The two-day program featured a wide array of panels and one-on-one conversations, as well as breakout sessions and online networking opportunities with other summit attendees, with the goal of convening international educators to learn best practices and models to take back and implement in informal and formal classroom settings.

The e-summit’s closing panel brought together some of the most influential heads of leading Jewish organizations to discuss the future of Jewish education in the post COVID 19 era. The panelists included Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA); Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC); Andrés Spokoiny, President and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network (JFN); Paul Bernstein, Founding Chief Executive Office at Prizmah; Amira Aharonoviz, CEO and Director General of The Jewish Agency for Israel; and moderated by Shoham Nicolet, Co-founder and CEO of the Israeli-American Council (IAC).

The panelists agreed that the most crucial aspects of Jewish education are “connections and community;” as well as the relationships between people, the experiences shared, and that the future of education should always include these “essential core aspects.”

Despite the hardships faced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, on an optimistic note, the panelists said the coronavirus pandemic has brought about increased collaboration among Jewish organizations. They agreed that the crisis could and should be used as a steppingstone to improve and to strive for a “higher quality” of content and programming in Jewish day schools and summer camps.

Additionally, the panelists said the crisis, akin to an “earthquake” provides an ideal opportunity to reshape the Jewish community and adapt to the new realities while ensuring accessibility, affordability, excellence, and inclusion in Jewish education.

“We definitely want to see this crisis end soon, but we don’t want to miss the opportunity to keep all the great things that are currently taking place as a result. Expanding collaboration between organizations, elevating the quality of content of programs to a whole new level, making Jewish and Israel education affordable and accessible to all. Now that we have re-imagined education for two days, it is time to go ahead and build it,” said IAC Co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet. “Quoting Steve Jobs, ‘some people say give the customers what they want. But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they are going to want before they do.’ We must adopt the same approach when it comes to Jewish education to take it to a more desired destination. Listening to the world’s educational technologies trailblazers makes you think about the endless opportunities that are out there for us.”

Yuval Shraibman, founder and CEO of Tel Aviv University Online (TAU) said: “This summit that brought together thousands of educators from Israel and the US, taught us that whatever you teach, where ever you teach today, you have wonderful tools and methodologies to get you through the near future. We better keep an open mind, learn how to learn, because change is constant and if we work together, we can even gain from this situation.”

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