World View Lecture Series


Ezra Stieglitz, professor from Rhode Island College, led several RIC professors to two colleges in Israel to begin a partnership for higher education and research. /Elanah ChassenPROVIDENCE – It took more than nine months of planning for 14 professors from Israel to visit Rhode Island as part of a joint collaboration to continue academic research with Rhode Island College professors. On Sept. 30, professors from Beit Berl and Oranim Academic Colleges, both in Israel, landed at Logan Airport in Boston – destination, Providence.

The story begins in January 2013 when several professors from Rhode Island College, led by Ezra Stieglitz, Ph.D., visited the two colleges in Israel to begin a partnership for higher education and research. During that time, the professors became not only colleagues across the continents, but also friends and collaborators. “The visit to Israel,” said Stieglitz, “proved we should continue to develop our relationship with the faculty of the two colleges. To do so, they, the faculty from Israel, should come to Rhode Island College.

“In order to have outstanding collaboration and engage in vital research, you have to feel comfortable with one another. So much depends on understanding who we are, including our academic culture and expectations for one another. More important, we must have a connection and establish positive relationships. The best way to bond is face-to-face contact.”

Thus began a weeklong visit that included dialogue among the faculties of the schools, a meeting with Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo, visits to the Jewish Day Schools, an afternoon of workshops at the Jewish Alliance and tours around Rhode Island, including Newport and Touro Synagogue.

Upon arriving in Rhode Island, the weary group toured the Rhode Island Statehouse. The formal tour included discussion about the General Assembly as well as a historic overview of the Statehouse. This included a look at the Rhode Island Charter.

The formal tour complete, Richard Licht, director of administration for the state of R.I. and past president of the board of directors of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, greeted the visitors, followed by a warm welcome by Governor Lincoln Chafee. Governor Chafee spoke of the importance of collaborations, to improve education and relationships.

The afternoon continued with an informal discussion led by Marty Cooper, community relations director of the Jewish Alliance. Attending the meeting was Sen. Joshua Miller (D-28, Cranston, Providence) and Larry Berman, director of communications for the R.I. House of Representatives. Discussion focused on Rhode Island’s political uniqueness of being a small state. There was also talk about the parallels of Israel and Rhode Island. Questions were raised about the size and community impact of the Jewish population of Rhode Island and the Jewish community in general.

The lecture series, which began Oct. 2 at Rhode Island College, included presentations by the professors from both Beit Berl College and Oranim Academic College, as well as from RIC. The keynote presentation by Jack Pastor of Oranim was about the Israeli educational system. A panel discussion to prepare teachers for a diversified society included faculty from all three colleges.

The following day, 40 educators, representing professors from two R.I. schools – private and public – and Jewish Day School faculty, as well as clergy and members of the general community, met at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. Prof. Stieglitz spoke about Project RIICC (Rhode Island – Israel College Consortium).

Miriam Ben-Yehuda, Co-Head of the Special Education Department at Beit Berl Academic College and Jack Pastor, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at Oranim Academic College, gave informative presentations about their colleges. Following their presentations, the Israeli professors held workshops which focused on the American and Israeli education systems.

Rachel Ravid from Oranim Academic College gave a workshop on Early Childhood titled, “Something Else – Conceptualizing Inclusion in the Early Years: The Israeli Perspective.” Batya Brutin from Beit Berl Academic College taught, “Teaching about the Holocaust with the Aid of Visual Arts.” Miriam Ben-Yehuda and Perach Licht spoke about Special Education in their workshop, “Meeting the Math Needs of Students with Special Needs: A Model for Tailored Instruction in Mathematics for Pupils with Learning Difficulties.”

“Science and Nature in Our Ancestors’ Environmental Stories” was led by Maria Lawrence from RIC and Michal Gross and Shai Shafir from Oranim Academic College. Moshe Shner from Oranim Academic College gave a workshop on Judaic Studies titled, “Buber Dialogical Philosophy as a Jewish Answer to the Maladies of Modernity.”

After the workshops, sponsored by the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Alliance, Jeffrey Savit, CEO and president of the Jewish Alliance, spoke about the Alliance and those they serve, how the Alliance meets the needs of the community, and the Alliance’s partners such as Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee. Following Savit’s talk, the professors enjoyed a dinner and networking with community leaders. The night concluded with the opening reception of gallery (401) Recent Work by Walter Feldman.

Elanah Chassen (, 421-4111 ext. 140, is an Education and Planning Associ-ate at the Jewish Alliance.

Marty Cooper (, 421-4111 ext. 171.