Want to make a difference in the lives of Israeli teens? Consider joining Israel Connect, a program where local adult volunteers connect online, one-on-one, via Zoom, with Israeli high school students who want to improve their English conversation and reading skills. This year’s program starts on Oct. 10 and is organized by Chabad Richmond, in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education. It entails a commitment of 45 minutes once a week.
There are currently 21 local volunteer tutors/mentors participating in Israel Connect, but more are needed. “We’re looking for volunteers who are retirees, seniors, or any adults with flexible schedules…. No previous tutoring experience is necessary and the curriculum is provided for tutors/mentors,” said Shelley Civkin, local coordinator of the program.“If you’re an adult who’s a fluent English-speaker, has basic computer skills and owns a computer with a camera, that’s pretty much all you need,” she said. “And, of course, a strong desire to help Israeli youth.”
Volunteers do not need to speak Hebrew and can tutor from home. Basic training and technical support are available if needed. Time preferences of volunteer tutors/mentors will be coordinated beforehand and sessions take place in the morning between 7 and 11 a.m. PST any day between Sunday and Thursday. “All Israel Connect asks is a minimum commitment of one school year, in order to ensure consistency for the students,” said Civkin.
“It’s a very meaningful, practical way for community members to support Israel and build bridges between Diaspora Jews and Israelis,” said Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad Richmond. “You’ll be doing a mitzvah, while investing in Israel and its young people. Plus, good English skills will give them an advantage in accessing post-secondary education and getting better jobs. English proficiency is crucial to Israeli students, since it accounts for a third of their entrance exam marks for university.”
“Partnering with the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Israel Connect program targets teens from less advantaged neighbourhoods in Israel,” added Civkin. “Most volunteers really enjoy helping their Israeli students and develop a lasting bond with them…. This kind of one-on-one tutoring makes a huge difference in their lives, both educationally and personally. It gives them a feeling of confidence, that they can converse in English. Estimating the impact of this program on Israeli youth is, of course, speculative, but we do know for certain that it helps improves their school grades.”
The curriculum consists mainly of a tour of Israel, focusing on the wealth of historically, culturally and biblically significant cities and sites. It’s not uncommon for both the students and the tutors to learn something new about Israel at each lesson. Civkin said several tutors have visited their students on trips to Israel and keep in touch way past the end of the school year.
For more information on tutoring, contact Civkin at 604-789-5806 or [email protected]. Anyone who would like to support the program financially, helping cover costs for aspects such as technical support and staffing, can call Chabad Richmond at 604-277-6427 or email [email protected].
– Courtesy Chabad Richmond