TALI is a Hebrew acronym for “Enhanced Jewish Studies.” The first TALI school opened in 1976 to provide Jewish content and a Jewish Studies curriculum to Israeli children in secular public schools, where Jewish tradition was barely being taught. TALI met an immediate and fundamental need for Jewish content, knowledge, and connection. In the subsequent four decades TALI has grown and deepened its role in Israeli education and in Israel’s secular educational system.
Today TALI is Israel’s largest pluralistic in-school Jewish Studies program, providing educational programs and resources to 65,000 children in highly diverse communities throughout Israel. TALI’s mission is to nurture a positive connection to Jewish heritage and values within the secular public school system. Working side by side with principals and teachers, publishing textbooks and online educational resources, and conducting informal educational activities, TALI provides a platform and the vital pedagogic tools for pluralistic education essential to Israel’s identity and future as a Jewish and democratic state.
The Tenth Grade New Identity Program is a year-long curriculum for tenth graders, complemented by three-day retreats, dedicated to understanding the role of Jewish identity in the complex Israeli reality. In the tenth grade, Israeli teens receive their national identification cards and begin the IDF army enlistment process. These milestones of civil life call for introspection of what it means to be a Jewish citizen of Israel. The program was launched in fall 2018 in ten Israeli high schools, with expansion planned in subsequent years.
Dialogue and Identity
Dialogue and Identity, in partnership with the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue, pairs Jewish and Arab-Christian schools exposing Jewish- and Arab- Israeli schoolchildren to the rich cultures and religions that share the Land of Israel. Children learn about family traditions in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The program is planned and facilitated for each school pair by two teachers – one from a Jewish school and one from a Christian one (nearly half of the students from the Arab-Christian schools are Muslim).The program began in 2006 in eight schools, and is currently run in 24 Israeli schools.
Halleli (Hebrew acronym for Invitation to Study Israeli Judaism) is an intensive learning experience that helps principals and teachers articulate visions of contemporary Jewish-Israeli Identity, and cultivates the professional leadership and commitment necessary for the expansion of pluralistic Jewish education throughout the entire secular public school system. Over 200 hours of workshops and seminars participants explore Philosophy of Jewish Education; Classic Jewish Texts; Judaism Throughout the Ages; and How Crises Spark Creativity and Renewal. The program culminates with a study trip to North America. Participants encounter Jewish leaders and educators from different denominations and explore the diversity of communal institutions, approaches to Jewish education and expressions of voluntary Jewish life.
The School Rabbis Program adds a critical dimension of spiritual education to the TALI school network by providing non-observant children, teachers, and parents with positive educational and spiritual experiences with rabbis. The rabbis represent a new type of role model for the pupils and their parents – one of a tolerant and open-minded spiritual educator who relates to them in a language and style that is at once inclusive and conducive to their modes of learning.
TALI Early Childhood trains pre-school and kindergarten teachers and conducts workshops for parents on topics of holiday observance and Jewish values, introducing them to creative ways of integrating Jewish content at home. The TALI Early Childhood Division currently provides pedagogical guidance and other educational services to over 210 TALI pre-schools, half of which have joined TALI in the last three years.
TALI Experiential Education emphasizes the combination of knowledge and experiences as being the key building blocks to strong Jewish identity. Experiential and informal educational programs can include Rosh Hodesh assemblies, holiday celebrations, a group Bat Mitzvah ceremony often led by the TALI rabbi, or a school program initiative (e.g. an exhibit of Pesach customs from various ethnic backgrounds prepared by families). Through these activities we build community and identity around Jewish cultural and historical themes. There are 38 different workshops offered for grades 1-8 and they can range from a 45-minute session to an all-day activity.
TALI Educational Resource Development has developed 35 textbooks for classroom use, two children’s siddurim, a Passover Haggadah for the whole family, interactive study kits and holiday-themed board games, and a wealth of digital resources for Jewish educators.
TALI Worldwide In the past few years, TALI’s outstanding educational resources have been adapted for use in Jewish communities around the world. In partnership with the Seminario Rabinico in Buenos Aires, TEF has responded to a request for curricular materials in Spanish and Portuguese, and for pedagogical assistance to establish a TALI network of day schools in Latin America.
TALI Education Fund has been developing a unique digital archive of images to stimulate creativity and learning through the integration of Judaism, Jewish text, and Jewish history, and the arts. The first online fine and folk-art index of the Bible and its commentaries, the Visual Midrash website is accessible at the following link: http://www.tali-virtualmidrash.org.il/index.aspx.
** Honorary member
Susan and Scott Shay Director General, TALI
TALI education inspires Israeli learners, young and old, to enhance their Jewish literacy, embrace multiple visions of Jewish Identity, and promote a pluralist society in Israel.
Facilitator for TALI’s new 10th grade Jewish Israeli Identity Seminar
TALI has taken the teaching of Judaism out of its formal framework, which by and large, can be boring, inflexible and unappealing to 16-year-olds. Our message is that Judaism can be many things: religion, tradition, culture, experience. We are telling participants that taking ownership of our Jewish heritage does not necessarily mean you have to be observant.