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Two lakes link Milwaukee, Israeli teens
May 3rd, 2002
To paraphrase Kohelet (Ecclesiastes 1:4), generations come and go, yet the earth, its features and resources, and humanitys dependence on them endure forever. So what better way to build a friendship between two populations that live next to lakes than to study what their environments have in common?
Thats what ten Nicolet High School Hebrew students and about a dozen Israeli students from the Beit Yerach High School in a kibbutz by that name have been doing via the Partnership 2000 program.
The idea arose when Suzanne Weinstein, Hebrew teacher at Nicolet, joined five Milwaukee-area Jewish educators on an Educators Mifgash (encounter) during summer 2000 to Milwaukees P2K region of Sovev Kinneret (around Lake Kinneret).
This program is one of the ways that Partnership 2000 a project of the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Agency for Israel builds people-to-people connections between diaspora and Israeli communities.
Weinstein in a telephone interview said that when she met Israeli teachers Noga Gazit and Amotz Broitzman, We decided that we would do a project that would involve water, the environment and the community. The basic premise was that since both groups of students live on a body of water the Israelis live on the Kinneret and the Americans live on Lake Michigan we would explore how their lives are impacted by this situation.
The Israeli students first developed a questionnaire about the environment in Hebrew.
We took the questionnaire and translated it, said Weinstein. We learned a great deal of new vocabulary.
The questionnaire asked about recycling; energy consumption; water and sewage; waste/litter; involvement in environmental groups and eco-friendly consumption.
Both classes exchanged photographs of their respective environments, which led to discussions in Weinsteins class about some of the ecological challenges facing Israel, especially the dangerously low level of the Kinneret.
Then, in early March, One of the students in my Hebrew class saw the connection between what we were doing in Hebrew language class and what he was doing in chemistry, said Weinstein.
The student, Simcha Cohen, a junior, explained that he and some friends were doing a presentation [in chemistry class] on toxic air pollution. In Hebrew class we were discussing conservation of the environment.
So Weinstein approached Cohens chemistry teacher, Jennifer Adkins-Stroh, and asked her if her students could answer a translated version of the questionnaire. Adkins-Stroh said it was natural for them to take the survey, the results of which will be posted on the web after they are tabulated.
Cohen said the project taught him, his Hebrew class and his chemistry class a lot. For example, I found out that [Israeli] toilets have two flush systems, which helps to conserve water. They use less water [than we do]. Israelis cherish their water and want to conserve it more, as compared to here.
Cohen said he has gotten a lot out of cooperating with students his age in Israel and has enjoyed applying what I have learned in one class to another.
Weinstein said the project taught her as well as her students. I know that I personally look at aspects of the environment more critically than I did before and I also used the opportunity to include more technology [vocabulary] in my language classroom, she said.
Weinstein wants similar projects to be continued on a more personal level between [Israel and American] students in the future.
You can learn more about the Nicolet project at http://www. yarden.ac.il/p2keb/projects/nico let_beityerach.htm.