New teachers facility in memory of fallen hero


28 March 2008 New teachers facility in memory of fallen hero Eyal Banim, one of the three Israeli soldiers killed in the Hezbollah ambush which sparked the Second Lebanon War, was remembered in a moving ceremony to open a new high-tech facility for teachers in the Golan Heights. The facility at the pedagogical and teacher training centre used by the Golans 1,500 teachers is named after Eyal, whose mother and grandmother, friends, commanding officer joined educators and World ORT staff for the opening ceremony in Katsrin. The facility has computers, photocopiers, printers, digital cameras, internet and intranet connections, photo and video processing software, design and development software, and binding and PowerPoint equipment that are standard in the WOTECs (World ORT Teaching Empowerment Centres) that have been created at 28 campuses across Israel as part of the Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. And it has additional features thanks to money raised by Lay Leaders and World ORT professionals at last years World ORT Board of Directors meeting in memory of Eyal and his fallen comrades, Wassim Nazal and Shani Turgeman. But the Head of the World ORT Representative Office in Israel, Rony Kalinsky, said everyone believed the facility would be more than the sum total of its much needed equipment. Eyal, as an only child, did not need to serve in a combat unit but, with his mothers permission, he insisted on it, Mr Kalinsky (pictured with Dr Orna Simchon, Head of the Ministry of Educations Northern Region) said. It was not because he wanted to fight but because of his strong sense of duty that if his country needed to be defended he could not expect others to shoulder the burden. The values that Eyal brings to this project are ones that all concerned want to perpetuate. The enhanced WOTEC will be available for use by all teachers in the Golan Heights, from primary to high school, and its extra features should enable it to meet the heavy use and wide range of demands expected. For example, it has a professional scanner that can scan slides as well as documents, and more powerful computers with additional software for lesson preparation. It also has a presentation pillar, a column with three screens on which presentations designed and prepared by teachers can be exhibited as a way of sharing ideas and inspiring peers. Eyals mother, Daniela, addressed the ceremony saying with a smile that the facility could be seen as a way for her son to make up for some high spirits as a child. Eyals relationship with his teachers at school was sometimes difficult because he was not a quiet student. This is a way for him to give back something to teachers, she said. The facility was first offered to the school in the Beer Sheva suburb of Omer, where Eyal lived as a child; but the school, which benefits from being in a wealthy community, declined. It was on the recommendation of Dr Orna Simchon, the Head of the Ministry of Educations Northern Region, that World ORT approached the Pisga pedagogical centre in Katsrin. Dr Simchon said locating the facility at Pisga would benefit all the Golans educational system because all the regions teaching staff as well as trainee teachers at a nearby college in Katsrin would be using it. We were very happy to open this, Dr Simchon said. But the ceremony was very touching; people cried as we heard about Eyal. But this is the history of Israel: on the one hand were happy and want to build and on the other hand were very sad that soldiers have died in such circumstances. The facility in the Golan is the second to be inaugurated in memory of the soldiers killed in the Hezbollah ambush. Last year, World ORT enabled the resumption of technology lessons at the junior school in Kfar Yanuach with the installation of state-of-the-art equipment there in memory of Wassim Nazal. Next month, a high tech facility is due to be inaugurated at Beit Shean in memory of Shani Turgeman. The living memorials have been made possible by a $30,000 fund that was initiated at last years World ORT Board of Directors meeting by World ORT Finance Committee Chairman Alan Berkowitz. Additional funds were matched with money from the World ORT Israel Emergency Campaign. The fund has been managed by ORT Braude College of Engineering student Tomer Weinberg, who survived the ambush despite sustaining serious injuries. Tomer was a special guest at the Board of Directors meeting and has been attending the inaugurations of the resultant facilities. Shmuel Cohen and Sherrie Gazit, staffers at the World ORT Representative Office in Israel, were instrumental in bringing the project together. Mrs Gazit said that having this memorial for Eyal in the Golan was particularly appropriate because of his love for nature and his recognition of the Golans strategic and historic importance for the Jewish people.