Lapid Core Program

Lapid Educational Core Program 
This Core Program was designed during 2014-15 by Chaim Fischgrund in consultation with Dan Krakow.  It was based on parallel core programs of Masa Israel, Taglit – Birthright Israel, and input solicited from all of the Lapid organizations.
The Case for Israel Travel during High School Years 
(Excerpt from High School Age Travel to Israel, Strategic Directions and Recommendations for the Future, Submitted to Lapid Israel by Elan Ezrachi, PhD December 2014)
Lapid and proponents of the teen travel sector believe that the Jewish people and the State of Israel have a vested interest in maximizing the number of Jews experiencing Israel during their high school years…  Jewish educators, community leaders and experts in the field of teen development share the belief that there is an advantage to encountering Israel at an earlier age during adolescence years.   
Visiting Israel during the high school years places the experience at the core stage of personal and Jewish identity development, which takes place in the teen years.  Moreover, it is known that for many Jewish teens who are engaged in active Jewish life until Bar and Bat Mitzvah age, the teen years that follow mark a weakening of their Jewish engagement and motivation.  A trip to Israel in this period exposes the teens to Jewish culture and heritage and to the challenges of modern Israel, within a peer group experience at a time when their Jewish engagement is in decline.  A trip to Israel during these years is a chance to reverse this trend and therefore a good investment in Jewish identity development.  
The teens experience Israel in the critical years in which plans are being made toward their post high school years.  In this period, teens are faced with decisions regarding choice of college and academic focus, Jewish lifestyle options, relationships, the degree of their Israel engagement and consideration of possible return trips to Israel.  Specifically, traveling during high school years increases the chances that alumni will return to Israel for longer periods on one of the many Masa Israel Journey programs. When teens travel to Israel during high school they return to their families and to their home communities.  They stay in the home communities between one and three years before leaving for their next phase, a gap year program or directly to college.  The period at home is fertile ground for a range of post-programming options that retain and deepen their experience.  
In addition to the “age” argument, teen programs tend to have a higher educational value as a result of being significantly longer, highly structured, led by trained educators and conducted by organizations with explicit educational intentionality. Finally, the visit to Israel during teen years is an opportunity for skills and capacity building for Jewish functionality in the post high school years.  Trip organizers as well as outside interested bodies can use the time in Israel to carry out leadership modules, orientation sessions, site visits to potential return options and preparing the teens for college, in particular combating anti-Israel attitudes on campus and multiple manifestations of Anti-Semitism (dk).

Lapid Core Themes 
It is the aim of the Lapid coalition to include a wide range of high school-age programs.  Every program that is recognized by Lapid will include at least six core topics, which are detailed below.  It is Lapid's intention that in addition to these core topics each organization will include in its program topics which reflect its vision and mission.  It is Lapid's assumption that each organization will implement the core topics based on its educational philosophy, approach and specialization.
The topics listed below are different from one another.  It is not Lapid's intention to state that these topics carry equal value nor does the order of appearance reflect prioritization.  Each topic stands on its own and reflects a wealth of educational values.  There is, of course, a certain overlapping of these topics and it is only natural that segments of each program will cover several topics simultaneously. The total mix of these topics will assist Lapid to evaluate and determine whether each organization meets the minimal requirements of "accreditation".  
If Lapid decides to follow the MASA model each of the topics will be evaluated on three levels: basic/average/high.  The difference in levels will be determined by the extent to which the organization treats the topic regarding time allotted, the activity and the emphases placed on each topic.  The basic level will yield one point, the average level 2 points and the high level 3 points.  Each topic must be covered in at least the basic level and in total the organization must gain 8 points to receive "accreditation".

Lapid Core Themes 
A.    The Overall Framework:
The following Lapid core themes are incorporated within all the itineraries of the coalition organizations.
1. Narratives of the Jewish People 
2. Exposure to Contemporary Israel: Arts and culture, Environmentalism and Ecology, Science and Technology politics, Society and Statehood.  
3.  Knowledge of Judaism, ideas and values of the Jewish religion
4.  Ideas and values of Zionism and the State of Israel  
6.  Hebrew
7.  Public diplomacy (Hasbara)

B.  In addition, each organization will choose one of these optional topics:
1.  Volunteering
2.  Developing leadership skills 
3.  Strengthening the feeling of Jewish Peoplehood

(All mandatory)
1.    Jewish Heritage Site
2.    Zionist Heritage Site 
3.    National Heritage Site
4.    ‘Natural’ Heritage Site 
5.    Shoah Heritage Site
Jewish Heritage Site 
A Jewish Heritage Site features the following characteristics:
1. Reflects the period from antiquity to the end of the 19th century (the beginning of the Zionist era)
2. Demonstrates a significant Jewish presence during the respective era
3. Reflects an important idea in, or a seminal approach to the emerging Jewish narrative
Zionist Heritage Site 
A Zionist Heritage Site features the following characteristics:
1. Reflects the period from the Zionist era (end of the 19th century) onward
2. Reflects an important idea in, or a seminal approach to the emerging Jewish narrative
National Heritage Site 
A National Heritage Site features the following characteristics:
1. Reflects the period from 1948 onward
2. Represents contemporary institutions and core values which reflect Israel as a Jewish & Democratic State
‘Natural’ Heritage Site 
A ‘Natural’ Heritage Site is an outdoors landscape that features the following characteristics:
1. A landmark wherein flora, fauna and other natural elements are being continuously preserved for educational, scientific and recreational reasons
2. A natural landmark which reflects significant moments in the emerging narrative of Israel
3. A natural landscape which offers a firsthand encounter with elements such as geology, zoology, botany, and other characteristics which are unique to the region
Shoah Heritage Site 
Trip Organizers should offer programs that:
1. Conduct a preparatory discussion preceding the visit to the Shoah commemorative site, and in which, issues and questions are introduced. The discussion may also include ‘trigger’ films, clips, poems, literature, or any other educational tool the Trip Organizer deems constructive for the discussion
2. Visit an established Holocaust commemorative site such as Yad Vashem, Lohamei Hagetaot, or Massuah
3. Meet a Holocaust survivor, either in person or by viewing a filmed testimony. In case of a meeting in person, time should be allotted for a discussion between the survivor and the participants
4. Conduct a group Remembrance & Commemoration ceremony at the site (recommended)
5. Offer a post-visit integration session, wherein participants may respond, discuss and integrate this experience within other sites, programs and issues on the trip.
1.    Arts & Culture 
2.    Environmentalism & Ecology 
3.    Science & Technology 
4.    Politics, Society & Statehood 
The Core Theme CONTEMPORARY ISRAEL expresses itself in a diverse array of topics, which include Arts & Culture; Environmentalism & Ecology; Science & Technology; and Politics, Society & Statehood.
Fulfillment of the Core Theme CONTEMPORARY ISRAEL encompasses a minimum of two of the four topics. The Trip Organizer needs to relate these topics to a broader diversity of experiences throughout the program in Israel.
Arts & Culture
Trip Organizers should choose programs that:
1. Relate to and reflect the contemporary Israeli social fabric.
2. Enable interactive engagement with either a work of art, or an artist, or a recognized specialist in the arts, or an artistic or cultural workshop.
3. Constitute an artistic experience that is uniquely connected to actually being in Israel, and is executed by a capable agent, or institution.
4. Invite conceptual and thematic associations with other topics of the program in Israel.
5. The program cannot be rooted in visits to commercial (for profit) venues, nor to solicit any commercial transactions between the artist/ specialist/institution and the participants.
Each organization is obligated to expose the participants in an organized fashion to the multifaceted aspects of Israeli culture in its varied expressions.  In addition to passively participating in cultural events and visiting cultural institutions, it is recommended that the organizations seek interactive methods for the participants to participate in cultural context in order to enrich the experiential aspect of the cultural encounter.  At the very least each organization should offer "tastes" of Israeli cultural creativity in the following: theater, music, cinema, dance, literature, poetry, and plastic arts.  Each organization should arrange access to cultural events taking place during the duration of the Israel program such as performance (musical, theatrical dance), and/or visits (museum, workshops) and/or seminars or lectures.  It is recommended that the participants are exposed to authentic contemporary Israeli cultural works (music, art, literature etc.) and cultural streams.

Environmentalism & Ecology
Trip Organizers should choose programs that:
1. Definitively reflect the importance of environmental and ecological values in contemporary Israel, and their leading role in addressing them
2. Include a dynamic and interactive element that engages the participants with the relevant subject matter
3. Thoughtfully link this subject with other experiences, programs or sites on the Israel program

Science & Technology
Trip Organizers should choose programs that:
1. Definitively reflect the importance of science & technology in contemporary Israel
2. Demonstrate some of Israel's achievements in this sphere, which are path-breaking and pioneering on the global scene
3. Guarantee a dynamic interactive element that engages the participants in a manner that powerfully reshapes their understanding of the subject-matter
4. Thoughtfully link this subject with other experiences, programs or sites on the Israel program

Politics, Society & Statehood
Trip Organizers should choose programs that:
1. Incorporate appropriate framing and contextualization of the addressed issues
2. Use experts and expertise that can address these issues responsibly
3. Use core documents and primary sites as vehicles for explicating these issues
4. Use a diverse cadre of personalities and sites that can convey a mosaic of perspective on these issues
5. Thoughtfully link this subject with other experiences, programs or sites 
6. Incorporate appropriate time for reflection, deliberation and debriefing among the participants on these issues

This Core Theme expresses itself in a diverse array of topics. 
Guiding Principles:
Each organization should impart Jewish knowledge and experience as related to the Jewish culture of the State of Israel.  The Jewish identity of Israel as it is manifested in the Jewish religion, nationality and culture of the State.  This will include challenging the participants to confront their identity with the Jewish People as well as relate to the Hebrew calendar, the Jewish life cycle and Shabbat.
Basic Level – find expression of Jewish calendar, holidays, special dates Shabbat and visit to places that are significant from a Jewish point of view.
It is optional to include programs that will have significant elements of study of text and exposure to Jewish texts as well as celebrating holidays and special dates.
Fulfillment of the Core Theme IDEAS & VALUES OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE encompasses SHABBAT as a mandatory topic, and a minimum of one of the remaining three topics. 
Topic 1: Shabbat
In order to fulfill the above objectives, Trip Organizers should include in their SHABBAT experience:
1. Kabbalat Shabbat
All educational journeys should create some form of a ‘Kabbalat Shabbat’ experience. It may be at diverse local synagogues; at the hotel; at another venue where the group is staying; or at any location which may assist in creating the atmosphere of ‘preparing for Shabbat’. The program may encompass diverse forms of prayer, contemplation, poetry, liturgy and celebration. Each Lapid organization will determine whether it wishes for its participants to experience the age old Jewish tradition of welcoming Shabbat through associated rituals and customs, such as candle-lighting, some forms of liturgy, spirituality and a special Shabbat meal.
2. Tefillah
Shabbat is a unique opportunity to allow participants to have some experience with Tefillah, its meaning and its roles in Jewish life. While Lapid does not require any form of prayer from its Organizations or participants, it does maintain that all participants should have the option to experience diverse prayer settings; and/ or discuss the meanings and roles of prayer, meditation and spirituality in classical and modern Jewish life.
3. Study
Shabbat allows the safe space and time for the group to join together in reflective discussions and dialogues on numerous important topics: discussions over Jewish values; Judaism and contemporary Jewish life in its different shapes, forms and expressions; Shabbat in Israel in contrast to the Diaspora; the role of Shabbat in maintaining some sort of Jewish unity; the challenges of Shabbat in modern life; the future of Shabbat in Jewish life; and so forth, also at the Organization's discretion. Depending on the scheduling and other demands, all Organizations are encouraged to have more than one study/discussion session on Shabbat.
4. Havdalah
All programs should have some form of a Havdalah ceremony at the end of Shabbat, to familiarize all participants with this core Jewish ritual and experience. All organizations should also afford the time to explain the meaning of certain customs during the ceremony.
6. The Spirit of Shabbat and Shabbat Observance
Lapid as a coalition of programs is fully sensitive to, and concerned for a pluralistic climate and overall culture.  Lapid aims to preserve the spirit of Shabbat as a vital component of the Israel program.  Each organization will determine, based on its ideology and educational philosophy, the degree of Shabbat observance it will require in the public domain or of individual participants.

Topic 2: Kehilah & Mutual Responsibility
In order to fulfill the above objectives, Lapid Organizations should include in their KEHILAH & MUTUAL RESPONSIBILITY experience:
1. An activity which provides an actual engagement with a local communal / social action endeavor as part of an actual on-site program
2. An activity which invites meaningful discussion about the concept & value of 'Kehilah', both in Israel and in participants' home communities
3. An activity which is not narrowly seen as 'volunteering', but is a prelude for participants' future association with their home communities and thus have a continuation
4. An activity which thoughtfully links this subject with other experiences, programs or sites on the program
Topic 3: Talmud Torah --- Beit Midrash 
A TALMUD TORAH --- BEIT MIDRASH program will be provided by Lapid organizations.  Each organization will determine whether this should be provided by an institution recognized in this field or using its own trained facilitators, and fully proficient in the language and cultural background of the respective Lapid organization.  
It is recommended that each organization make available a document entitled "The Essential Jewish Bookshelf", which catalogues the cannon of Jewish texts.

Guiding Principles:
The organizers should include the story of the creation of the State of Israel and the struggle and the path to its creation.  The participants will relate to Aliyah, Chalutziyut, Zionist vision, Hagshama, etc. in order to make these concepts relevant to the lives of each of them and focus on key Zionist leaders and personalities.
Basic level – Organizations will find ways to express national symbols, texts and major events which will emphasize the Zionist nature of the State throughout the programs; impart knowledge of basic Zionist concepts; visit institutions such as the Knesset, Supreme Court, Mt Herzl, Independence Hall, Sde Boker; participate in relevant ceremonies; give expression to national symbols such as the flag, state emblem, declaration of independence.
It is optional to include study of significant texts related to Zionism and the State of Israel, awareness of national institutions and the democratic process and regime and Law of Return, study of Zionist leaders and institutions (eg. WZO, KKL, and Keren Hayesod)
Knowledge and awareness of the Land of Israel should be a basic principle in the experiential learning of participants on Lapid Israel trips.  This will enable a significant attachment of the participants with the history of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel and with the State of Israel as the center of contemporary Jewish experience.
Each organization must strive to visit as many geographic regions in Israel as possible.  Mere physical presence in each region is not sufficient.  Therefore each organization must teach and describe the relevant content of the places visited while taking into consideration the continuum of Jewish history in the regions.  In addition, it is vital to impart an awareness of and familiarity with Israeli society with its diverse communities, ethnic, national and religious groups throughout Israel.
The tours should instill an acquaintance with the immediate area where the program takes place, basic awareness with the map of Israel, organized and guided tours to learn about nature and human history in the various regions. 

In order to fulfill the above objectives, Lapid Organizations should choose programs that:
•    Experientially and creatively present the story of modern Hebrew in Israel
•    Enable content-based interaction with sites, institutions or personalities that exemplify this topic
•    Devote adequate time and space towards a comprehensive deliberation on:
1.    Hebrew as a value
2.    The connection between language and identity
3.    Options for post-journey studies of Hebrew
Each organization is encouraged to teach Hebrew words and expressions as much as possible and encourage its participants to use the knowledge of Hebrew with which they came to Israel.  Each organization is encouraged to arrange situations where this is possible and effective.      

Mifgashim with Israeli peers must be planned, organized and structured.  The effectiveness of encounters between teens from Israel and the Diaspora is in the promotion of meeting and understanding the "other", in the attempt to identify the similarities despite the cultural differences, in critical analysis of stereotypical thinking, in creating interpersonal and intergroup relations, and in empowering a sense mutual belonging which will lead to a deeper commitment and a sense of common fate between Israeli teens and Diaspora communities and individual Jews in the Diaspora.  
In order to fulfill the above objectives, Lapid Organizations should:
•    Prepare overseas and Israeli participants for the Mifgash experience
•    Ensure that the prospective Israeli candidates come from diverse sectors. 
•    Ensure that the Israeli participants demonstrate reasonable fluency in the vernacular of their respective group
Each Lapid Organization will determine for itself whether the Mifgash will include a home stay of its participants with Israeli families or whether these encounters will take place while traveling together. 
Each Lapid Organization will determine whether the Mifgashim will include volunteering opportunities. 

The aim of Public Diplomacy (Hasbara) is to establish a dialogue designed to inform and influence.  Public Diplomacy among the chanichim of the Lapid organizations is a natural outcome of the Israel Education that is the essence of themes 1 – 4.  It is predicated on an understanding of the history and current status of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  It will also provide the participants with practical skills in effective communication. Throughout the program, students will be exposed to books, articles, literature and films about improving Israel’s standing in the international arena.
The practical aspects of Public Diplomacy will include the following:
•      Communication skills:
1.    Public speaking
2.    Debating skills
3.    Responding to difficult questions on core issues surrounding the conflict
•    Leadership skills:
1.    Principles of effective activism
2.    Planning and implementing Israel advocacy campaigns in the community
•    Media:
1.    Becoming critical consumers of the media
2.    Learning to utilize mass media to shape public opinion on Israel
3.    Using Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms) to run campaigns, influence existing social networks and expand reach of message to additional social networks

Individual and group volunteering contributes to a better understanding of the needs of Israeli society, exposes the participants to significant social projects in Israel and creates active involvement with life in Israel.  Therefore each Lapid organization should create the necessary conditions which will allow each participant to engage in the activities of a volunteer organization in Israel.  
Each Lapid Organization will determine whether its educational philosophy and ideology will permit volunteering to include political activity, youth movements, social activism, etc.  
Volunteering should not include working for private for-profit organizations.  
It is highly recommended that each Lapid organization arrange workshops devoted to understanding "volunteering and the challenges facing society in Israel".

Developing leadership skills is an important way to amplify and enhance the experience in Israel in order to strengthen the sense of belonging and mutual responsibility of the participants and their role in the future as activists in home communities.
Each Lapid organization should endeavor to develop leadership skills among its participants through study and understanding their community's needs.  Each Lapid organization should endeavor to develop skills required by leaders in general and Jewish leaders in particular.  This should be done both in the theoretical as well as practical realms.
Some organizations may view Public Diplomacy as an element of developing leadership skills.

Guiding principles: The Israel program is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the feeling of Jewish Peoplehood among the members of each Lapid organization.  Relevant seminars and encounters with participants from other communities and organizations as well as Mifgashim will strengthen the Jewish identity of each participant as well as strengthen the awareness and understanding that each participant is part of a greater Jewish circle.  These activities are likely to strengthen the sense of commitment of the participants to their own communities and the Jewish People in general.  
Strengthening the feeling of Jewish Peoplehood among the members of each Lapid organization will also enable them to learn about key personalities and leaders who acted in the past and are still active in their communities and understand the changes that have occurred in the "Jewish story" throughout history.  
It is recommended that each Lapid organization arrange seminars, lectures and relevant meetings as well as visit institutions such as Beit Hatfutzot.