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YU News

AMODS Links US High School Students with Israel Via Live Video Hookup

May 18, 2007 -- When students from nine day schools and yeshivas in the United States joined thousands of others in Jerusalem on May 16 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its reunification, they may not have been there in person, but they were certainly “seen and heard,” says Nathan Kruman, associate director of the Association of Modern Orthodox Day Schools and Yeshiva High Schools (AMODS).

To mark the day, participating schools—in Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Miami, and Pittsburgh—connected with each other and with school alumni now in Israel through video conference technology set up by AMODS, sending international messages of goodwill and joining in educational activities.

Calling the event “a global celebration,” Mr. Kruman notes that the nearly 500 who participated in the AMODS initiative were able “to feel part of Klal Yisrael [the people of Israel] and as though they, too, were joining in Jerusalem’s celebrations. For the participating students, the experience was very real.”

Following up on the success of last year’s program, which linked six schools to the Jerusalem celebration, this year’s event—conducted in two separate sessions—allowed US students and alumni from their schools to virtually join hands on this special day, relaying messages in each direction. In addition, through the strategic placement of three cameras around the Western Wall, North American participants got a bird’s-eye view of the Jerusalem festivities and the tunnels underneath the Kotel.

According to Mr. Kruman, whose AMODS program is run under the auspices of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future and who traveled to Jerusalem for the occasion, US youngsters sent school banners to Israel for their alumni to display while celebrating. And if the American children could not dance near the Kotel, they could at least watch as their counterparts in Israel participated in the joyous celebration.

In addition to the exchange of messages, US students took part in an educational interactive Jerusalem quiz, while alumni were treated to a special program on Tuesday night in which Rabbi Binny Freedman, educational director of Isralight, shared stories about Jerusalem from his office overlooking the Kotel.

“We hope our students felt more involved in the celebration in a global sense” through this program, says Mr. Kruman. “They were joining in the celebration of an event that occurred before some of their parents were born and connecting with our history in a meaningful way.”