Town Square Academia

In the summer of 2011, hundreds of tents went up across Kiryat Shemona as students and residents joined in the national protests against social inequality in Israel. During the long summer evenings, professors gave informal lectures in the tents, encountering a deep thirst for knowledge among local residents. This led to the creation of the Town Square Academy, which makes academic-level courses accessible to the general public in Kiryat Shemona and surrounding areas.

The program reflects Tel-Hai’s deep commitment to all residents of its surrounding community, bringing the power of higher education to Jews, Arabs, Christian, Muslim, Druze, kibbutz and moshav residents, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, religious and secular in local schools, social halls, even a center for hearing-impaired adults. In a region with high unemployment, low wages, and lack of access to education and knowledge, the courses instill confidence and a sense of hope for the future. Instructors volunteer their time, as do Tel Hai’s students; teenagers from the local youth movements babysit so that adults can attend classes; transit is provided for all, including special transportation for the disabled; and residents and local experts teach joint courses with professors.

During the past two years, over 550 Upper Galilee residents have participated in dozens of courses in local restaurants, schools, community centers, factories and small cafés. The project has created a bridge between academia and community, with learning taking place in both directions. What started in the fires of protest has helped forge a new reality. In just a few short years, Tel Hai has created a new kind of learning community that empowers the region from within by showing its people their own strength.

For additional information please contact: Yael Silver at: akademya.bakikar@gmail.com

(Supported by CTC/Upper Galilee Panhandle Partnership)