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Milford woman among new cohort of ICenter Fellows

CHICAGO, IL – Tikva Shapiro of Milford is among a new cohort of graduates of the ICenter Fellows Master’s Concentration in Israel Education.

Comprised of students from eight academic institutions across 12 campuses, members of the fifth cohort work in varied settings, from camp, to university, to day schools, and more. Now certified as Israel educators, they employ a learner-focused approach to Israel education in which they help build authentic, personally meaningful connections between the learners and the land, the people, and the State of Israel.

Born and raised on Kibbutz Hatzor in Israel, Shapiro is currently a Hebrew and Judaics teacher at Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel (BEKI), a Conservative synagogue in New Haven. She recently completed a masters in Jewish education from Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. The iCenter course was part of her studies toward that degree.

“As an Israeli who has been living in Connecticut for the past 10 years, I found the iCenter program offered a most welcome and needed framework for Israel education,” Shapiro recently told the Ledger in an email. “Its inclusive, pluralistic and intellectually invigorating approach makes it an island of pedagogical sensibility and forward thinking. I loved the unique way of modeling their philosophy by developing our relationships to each other as we were unpacking our relationship to Israel.

“My cohort was as diverse as the myriad of Jewish educational settings in North America, yet I had some of the most meaningful and honest conversations about Israel since I came here. My favorite takeaway from our last session is the call for a nuanced learning of Israel’s complexities and diversity; and for a personal and courageous teaching. Developing a long-lasting relationship with Israel will be built one meaningful learning experience at a time. Thanks to the iCenter I now have a better idea how to go about it.”

The 37 students in Shapiro’s cohort concentrated on education, rabbinical and cantorial studies, and more, representing the spectrum of Jewish denominations and a diversity of opinions. The program integrates academic study, ongoing mentorship, learning opportunities in Israel, and creation of a final Israel education project, which students presented at the seminar. Initiated in 2010, the program has now graduated 152 iFellows.

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