Virtual One-Day Madrichim Training Seminars
Were you expecting to staff a Birthright Israel trip this summer? Did you miss out on the opportunity to work with your students, engage with young professionals in your local community, or a chance to build a new community, or kehillah, with people who share your passions, beliefs, and values? Are you counting the days until you can board that plane and arrive back in the Promised Land? Well...we feel the exact same way!
We want to take all of that energy and passion and do something constructive with it. Our idea, is to work with you to become even better prepared for your role as Birthright Israel madrichim. As such, we've reached out to our partnering Trip Organizers as well as other like-minded Jewish and Israel educational institutions to put together a series of Virtual One-Day Madrichim Training Seminars for North American (US and Canadian) trip staff.
This online educational series is built to allow you to pick and choose topics that feel the most interesting to you. You can choose to register to participate in one, several, or all, of the sessions found on this website. And, the best thing is that these aren't theoretical teachings, or things that will end up contributing to your growing Zoom fatigue. Instead, these seminars are imbued with intentionality. In the purest sense, we are offering you tachlis, or useful knowledge. These are sessions that will offer practical guidance to commonplace encounters which you'll then be able to use or adapt in the field. And, best of all, you'll get to spend the time learning with your peers, and your hosts will be world class Jewish educators and leading experts in the field of Israel education who have actual experience with Birthright Israel trips.
LEAD WITH INTENTIONALITY
The Hebrew word for intentionality, kavanah, conjures the term for direction, kivun. In fact, the term leadership itself implies we must know where we are going if we are to lead. For Birthright Israel, leadership with intention requires a sharp awareness, empathy, and compassion of our main "subject" the participants, as well as our other "subject" – the themes and experiences we wish to provide.
One of the best reasons to staff a Birthright Israel trip is that you get to experience Israel anew through the eyes of the participants. Every time I visit Israel with the program, it reaffirms my commitment to Israel and Judaism, but most of all it reminds me why I decided to become a Jewish Educator.
Rachel B - Madricha
AN EXERCISE IN MEANING-MAKING
We believe that it's important to continuously educate oneself and engage in finding new ways of becoming a better trip leader. Certainly, it's a worthwhile endeavor to re-imagine what our roles as Jewish and Israeli educators can be. Specifically, in the role of Birthright Israel madrichim, everything around you is in a constant state of change –
whether it’s participants’ access to technology, their personal understandings and beliefs, or even the evolving social, cultural, political and physical landscapes around the world and in Israel and North America. Whatever the case, to be the best role models, mentors, and educators we can be, we must continually grow and learn to keep up with the pace of things.
At the end of the day, the most reliable thing that guarantees a good participant experience is excellent staff. And, alongside the daily investment we make in furthering the education of our Israeli Tour Educators, we know that we must continue to invest our time and effort in you, our local trip staff. Madrichim trainings now take place in other parts of the world on a regular basis – including places like Argentina and Brazil, in Germany, France, and the former Soviet Union, and soon to take place in England. That said, approximately 75% of all Birthright Israel trip participants still come from the United States and Canada. And, we know that by far the best return on investment we can get is by investing in your continued growth.
We hope that you will find meaning in these training seminars and, at the same time, community and inspiration within this online space. Ultimately, we look forward to a time, in the not-so-distant future, when we'll find ourselves back in the Promised Land amongst friends, family, and lots of young people wearing familiar-looking t-shirts sporting our name and logo!
Establishing a connection between universal, personal, and Jewish values on a Birthright Israel trip offers participants a way to associate larger takeaways from their experience. The introduction of these values should be understood as being key linchpins in the success of the shared group experience. And, in addition to helping participants form the tangible memories which they will take home, these values will also act as their guideposts as they continue on their lifelong Jewish journeys.
"I didn't think my second time staffing would be anything special, but it ended up being the best trip yet. With each time you lead a Birthright Israel trip, even though you're a trip leader, you continue learning more and more about our homeland and our people. The most beautiful thing about staffing though, is seeing how Birthright Israel impacts the participants."
David B - Madrich
MEETING THE MOMENT
So, what does Birthright Israel look like during a global pandemic? We are ever striving to improve what we do. And, although our trips may not be traveling right now, we are preparing for every possible scenario so that we are ready to go at the very moment that it's safe to begin again. This includes re-evaluating our educational vision, and seeking ways to improve the Israel experience. And definitely...most definitely, taking advantage of this time to invest in the areas that will ensure a bright future for the program. And, this means you!
We hope that being able to pivot from what were originally intended to be in-person madrichim training seminars across the country, to an online model will actually become an opportunity to grow more effectively in this area. Certainly, hosting online training seminars means that we now have a chance to reach more people without being limited by geography. It also offers the possibility of more frequent gatherings, and the ability to focus on very specific topics of interest. For now, we only see possibility and we hope and expect that this will benefit everyone.
In the months ahead, we expect to offer other models of madrichim trainings in virtual spaces, and hope that your experience with this first online educational series of Virtual One-Day Madrichim Training Seminars will be a launching point for continued growth in the future.
"If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And, if I am not for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?"