JEC workshop explores meaning of chalutz

by | Mar 6, 2015 | Other News

What is a “chalutz? ” This is the question that Leon Covitz posed at the recent Jewish Education Council Educators’ Professional Development workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Covitz is the director of education at Temple Israel and an educator at the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater where he is also coordinator of its alumni programs. He is also a teacher in the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.

During this workshop, Covitz explored with participants the various ways to understand the meaning of the word chalutz, which is usually translated as “pioneer” in the context of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Some of the questions he asked were:
• Is chalutziut still alive in the 21st century? If so, who are today’s chalutzim?
• What does it mean to be a chalutz?
• How can I be a chalutz in my Jewish community and for the State of Israel?

The workshop included hands-on ideas for making this topic come alive through different genres—biblical text (both in Hebrew and English), music, film, pictures and art.

Covitz began the workshop by dividing the participants into several groups, giving each group a large puzzle of the State of Israel. He challenged each group to complete the puzzle as quickly as possible. It was exciting to watch educators from different schools work together on a project which they can then present to their students as they begin a unit of study on Israel.