Submitted By: Aryeh Eisenberg, Director of Education- Tomorrow’s Genius
Last night, I was watching TV with my six year old son. He had on the Hop channel which is a popular kids channel here in Israel. Most of their programs contain some type of educational message. Whether it be reading comprehension, math skills, or just social skills, we know that what my son watches on Hop will at least be age level appropriate. Yesterday after watching together with my son, I received a new found appreciation for non-traditional education methods.
After his usual program was over, a special show started. This show, featured a puppet lamb and his grandmother. The grandmother showed the lamb a photo of her son Gadi. The lamb puppet, who was meant to be a little child asked why Gadi was only in the photo, and why he had never been to their house. The grandmother explained that Gadi was killed during the Six Day War. The lamb puppet did not know what the term “killed” actually meant. He asked, “so he’ll be coming later?” Grandmother explained that no, Gadi will not be coming home. She then began to describe the day of Yom Hazikaron and why it was so meaningful. It was so interesting to see the response of the little child and how he comprehended this difficult day. The program proceeded to show the drive that the grandmother and her grandson took to Har Hamenuchot. On the way, they discussed the miracle of the State of Israel, and how people like Gadi enabled us to be where we are today.
As we were watching, my son turned to me and asked, “Why does Israel have so many wars?” I talked with him further about how special it is to live in Israel and how God is always helping us to stay strong. It occurred to me, that this 15 minute TV program explained Yom Hazikaron far better than I could have ever hoped. My son was able to become part of the experience and left with a better appreciation of what it really means to live in Medinat Yisroel.
Education comes in all different forms. When I was working in the United States, I would always tell teachers that lessons could come from anywhere. With the Internet as a major educational tool, this is truer than ever. Teachers can use virtual technology to actually bring students into an experience. As a student, I can recall all of the countless classes on Zionism, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut. While they may have conveyed information, none of those lessons actually conveyed the experience. This experience based learning however makes education happen. After 12 years as a Jewish day school student, I did not gain a true appreciation for Medinat Yisroel until I was here in Israel for Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atmaut. I can still recall the ceremony we attended in Jerusalem. They read out loud the names of all of the soldiers who had been killed that year. Then, the next day sadness turned to joy as we ran up and down Ben Yehuda celebrating the miracle of the State of Israel.
As we commemorate Yom Hazikaron and prepare to celebrate the miracle of Yom Ha’atzmaut, we must remember that it is not a book or lecture that makes these days meaningful. It is the experience that makes it important. As a six year old, my son learned about a concept that would have been very difficult to explain otherwise. I asked him if his teacher talked about it, and while he said she did, I know that in his mind, the importance of the day did not register strongly. Seeing it happen however, in those 15 minutes gave my son the experience. As we all commemorate those who have fallen for the State of Israel and celebrate the last 63 years, we should remember that it is the experiences that can truly impact our lives.