Shalom! My name is Evan Wertheim and I’m very excited to be a Jewish History teacher with NFTY-EIE. I grew up in Atlanta, in a home committed to Jewish life. I was active in NFTY and went on an amazing trip to Israel with NFTY in 1999. After finishing college and serving in AmeriCorps, I made Aliyah in 2007, and have since been living in Israel. I’m working on finishing my M.A. in Talmud and Bible and those studies led me to become a teacher at EIE.
Last Fall, I had the great opportunity to be a teacher-in-training and participate in a whole semester of EIE from both the perspective of a student and staff. This opportunity led me to realize what it is that makes EIE such an engaging program: experiential education. What do I mean by that?
EIE is so much more than just a semester of school in Israel. The acronym stands for Eisendrath International Experience and I’d add to that “Experiential Informative Education.” During the course of four months, we spend many engaging and informative hours in the classroom learning the history of Am Yisrael. However, our main way of increasing knowledge and understanding of the historical events are the tiyulim (field-trips) and experiencing the history of our people right where it occurred. As a Jewish History teacher, I relish the time we have exploring our country and seeing it anew through my students’ eyes.
Together, we retrace the steps of our biblical ancestors, learning how the Jewish People began and thrived in the ancient world. We experience Jerusalem through multiple visits, learning about her origins and humble beginnings. We journey through the Second Temple Period and visit King Herod’s massive additions to the city, as we witness what it was like for those making the sacred pilgrimage two thousand years ago. We hike up Masada and learn her story. We study the beginnings of Christianity and Islam. We follow Bar Kokhba to his hideout and listen to Rabbi Akiva’s wisdom. We continue on the path with the Taanaim to Beit Shearim and Tzippori.
The best part? This is just the first 6 weeks!
Is EIE fun? Absolutely. Is EIE challenging? Yes, but in a very positive and incredible way. Will EIE change your life? Undoubtedly. I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach my amazing students in Kitat Dekel this semester and to explore our unique history together. I’m looking forward to many more semesters of learning