In July 2022, the President of Herzog College, Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Brandes, visited Argentina with Rabbi Shmuel Kornblit, Herzog’s Director of Spanish Language Programs. They visited many different schools, synagogues and organizations, to introduce them to Herzog’s Spanish “Tanaj.org” website and to hear about the educational needs of the Jewish community.
Rabbi Brandes met with representatives of Argentina’s AMIA Jewish community organization to discuss their partnership with Herzog College, which includes professional development programs for Jewish teachers in Israel and online. They discussed the impact of the Spanish Tanakh website, which has attracted over 100,000 visitors over the past year. They were very enthusiastic about the Spanish-language materials that Herzog College has provided for them over the past 4 years, and want to know when they will receive more!
Rav Kornblit and Rav Brandes met with the leadership of the Menora organization that runs informal Jewish education programs in Argentina. Its president, Rabbi Isaac Entebi Sacca, had just returned from Israel, where he visited Herzog College to discuss expanding the ongoing partnership between the two organizations.
Visiting Schools in Buenos Aires
The two Herzog Rabbis visited Argentina’s largest school ORT with 6,000 students, and sat in on a 3rd grade Hebrew poetry class. He spoke to the ORT Judaic Studies teachers, many of whom are participating in Herzog’s Rimonim professional development program, about the future of Jewish Education in the 21st century.
At the Wolfson school, they joined Grade 4 and Grade 6 classes who were learning Tanakh using the “Hayinu KeCholmim” interactive platform that Herzog has developed and translated into Spanish. At the Shalom Aleichem school, they heard from teachers how the Tanaj.org website has transformed their teaching, as they had previously been unable to find Jewish translations of Biblical verses into Spanish.
Over the weekend, the Rabbis:
- Gave shiurim at the city’s new Religious Zionist synagogue “La Casa”
Spoke to a group of non-religious families who had come to celebrate a bar mitzvah.
- Ran a Tanakh evening on Motzai Shabbat for the local Jewish community, including a Kahoot Bible quiz.
- Spoke at a Chabad community event for 17 Tammuz.
- Participated in the annual memorial event for the victims of the AMIA bombing in 1994, in which 85 people were killed by terrorists.
Tanakh-Tech Teacher Training
During the visit, Rav Shmuel Kornblit ran several training sessions for teachers from different communities on how to use the Tanaj.org website and Hayinu KeCholmim app as teaching tools. One teacher told him how he had used the website during the COVID lockdown to teach Torah to students who did not have Chumashim in their homes. Rav Shmuel was also interviewed on Argentina’s Jewish radio station about the website and Herzog’s teacher training programs.
Latin America Jewish Education Conference
Rabbi Brandes was one of the keynote speakers at a huge conference for 1,500 Jewish educators from across Latin America at the Martin Buber School in Buenos Aires. The conference was organized by the Argentina Jewish community through AMIA, the World Zionist Organization and UnitED, a subsidiary of Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry and Herzog College.
This was the first annual Jewish education conference held in Latin America since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it focused on Hebrew language teaching and Jewish education. Herzog’s involvement in this event not only strengthened the college’s connections with the Latin American Jewish community, but also with the WZO and the Ministry of Diaspora. Click here to watch the conference highlights video.
After his visit to Argentina, Rav Brandes continued his tour of Latin America with a visit to Uruguay to visit local schools and spent Shabbat with the Yavne community in Montevideo.