Israel Education in North America: A Landscape Analysis of the Field

April 5th, 2024

This report summarizes the status of Israel education in North America in 2023. It is based on information gathered during website reviews, interviews with 43 key Israel education leaders and staff, and selected reviews of research studies. Data gathering occurred primarily before the events in Israel that occurred on October 7, 2023: priorities for Israel education may have shifted after this event as did thought leaders’ visions for the future. The data gathered for this report show the following:

Israel education in North America is thriving. There is a growing number of organizations provide Israel education and an increased amount and quality of the materials and professional development available to educators. There is strong evidence of Israel education being incorporated into preschools, K-12 settings, colleges/universities, summer camps, synagogues, and other settings that serve Jewish people. Many settings have a dedicated Israel education professional that provides Israel education or supports educators in their integration of Israel education into their teaching and learning approaches.

Israel education is increasingly being viewed as a vital part of any Jewish education endeavor. There is a growing belief that connection to Israel is a critical part of Jewish identity/identities formation and that all Jews should be exposed to Israel education activities.

Israel education is being professionalized.
Over the past 5-10 years, the field has developed certifications, Master classes, Master’s degrees, and advanced learning opportunities and has increasing numbers of participating educators and students.

Israel education has increasingly featured high quality educational experiences for its participants.
Several leading Israel education organizations provide opportunities for deep learning, immersion, active engagement, and multiple learning styles. Evidence shows that these pedagogies produce greater retention of knowledge and skills, confidence in teaching, and adoption of strategies in educational settings. Israel education is becoming more learner centered and more often recognizes the complexity of Israel as a country and people.

Israel educators agree that Israel education is integral to Jewish education. They also agree on many aspects of Israel education that should be included in any approach being implemented. However, they disagree on many aspects of Israel education, including the ways to address complexity, and other field-building aspects, such as the need for standards, multiple narratives, and collaboration.

Israel education is being offered as a key component of most Israel travel experiences for all ages. There is evidence that nearly all Israel travel experiences increasingly include meaningful and engaging programming to promote a sense of belonging to Israel and to see the connection to Israel as part of one’s Jewish identity. The number of the travel experience organizations has grown and has attracted a more diverse set of travelers. Participation is strongest among Jewish teens and young adults.

Israel education is integrated with most advocacy organizations. Most have some components of Israel education, enlightening others about history, culture, and need for preserving Israel as a homeland.

Israel Education in North America: A Landscape Analysis of the Field, Shelley H. Billig, Ph.D, January 2024

View the additional Field Analysis here. Aliza Goodman of The iCenter provides additional insights in eJewish Philanthropy.