Beit Berl College is a compelling model for higher education in Israel. Founded in 1949, the College combines the pioneering spirit of Berl Katznelson, spiritual leader of the pre-state Labor Movement (for whom the school is named), with the vision and spunk of the Start-Up Nation. Today, the pastoral campus thrives with educational opportunity, social diversity and creativity, and attracts the best and the brightest to the critical fields of education, the arts, and society and culture – providing a combination of rigorous theoretical work and hands-on learning.
Egalitarian learning environment
Fervent about advancing social responsibility and active citizenship both in the classroom and throughout Israeli society, Beit Berl Colleges graduates constitute a new generation of leaders, poised to change Israeli society from the inside out. Over 10,000 students – religious and secular, Jewish and Arab, veteran and immigrant – and 700 faculty members interact in a dynamic, diversified and egalitarian learning environment. The academic calendar incorporates both Jewish and Arab holidays, and preparatory programs enable many Arab students to access fields of higher education for the first time. The College also welcomes a growing population of ultra-Orthodox students, providing academic frameworks for Haredi men and women that respect their lifestyle and cultural sensitivities.
Qualified students from all backgrounds are encouraged to benefit from the intellectual enrichment and new opportunities offered by Beit Berl College. The scholarship program provides a leg up to the many Israeli students who would otherwise not have the means to pursue higher education.
With a national reputation for professionalizing the field of education, the Colleges Faculty of Education specializes in the training and development of teachers and youth workers. Covering early childhood to secondary-school education, including special education and youth at-risk, the Faculty merges theory and practice, working with over 230 Arab and Jewish schools and community centers to facilitate learning and supervise students in the field.
Within the Faculty of Education, the Arab Academic Institute of Education distinguishes Beit Berl College as a unique institution that trains teachers for both the Jewish and Arab education systems, offering studies for each group in its own native language, while providing ample opportunities for both groups to learn together. Today, nearly one in every five teachers in Israels secular Jewish and Arab public school systems is a graduate of Beit Berl College.
As the central hub of Beit Berl Colleges interdisciplinary studies, the dynamic Faculty of Society and Culture integrates academic and practical knowledge on a wide range of cultural and social issues. Graduates engage in education, local government, law enforcement, business, and the non-profit sectors. In cooperation with the Open University, the Faculty also provides mid-career professionals the opportunity to gain a degree while broadening their intellectual horizons.
70 years of art studies
In 2016, Beit Berl Colleges celebrated Faculty of Arts, HaMidrasha, will mark 70 years of training Israeli artists, filmmakers and teachers of the arts. Its 150 faculty members and thousands of graduates are trailblazers in Israels cultural arena. Faculty members have received prestigious awards, including the 2014 Israel Prize for Fine Arts, represented Israel at the 2015 Venice Biennale, and are frequent winners at national and international film festivals.
The lack of arts studies in the Arab community and the dearth of artistic opportunities perpetuate inequalities and discrimination. To create a greater social balance, HaMidrasha has established a one-year preparatory program designed to dramatically increase the number of Arab college students who enter the arts. After only four years, this program enjoys increasing popularity and today 25% of HaMidrasha students are from the Arab sector. Promising continued impact, Arab teachers and artists are poised to expand art education and awareness across their entire community.
The vibrant HaMidrasha Gallery–HaYarkon 19 is the Facultys window onto the community, located at the nexus of Tel Avivs gallery district and disadvantaged southern neighborhoods. The Gallerys striking displays and center for social outreach host thousands of visitors a year. Through its wide array of activities, including encounters with local and international artists, contemporary art exhibitions and installations, screenings, book launches, multi-media and musical happenings, HaMidrasha Gallery–HaYarkon 19 is a dynamic catalyst in the Israeli art scene.
Promoting cross-cultural understanding
In 2015, Beit Berl College launched the Center for Education for Shared Society to focus on three intersecting areas: education, creating shared campus life, and building an inter-communal hub. Dedicated to advancing cross-cultural understanding in the next generation of Israeli teachers, this new Center aims to become a national incubator for change. The Center develops Israeli models and practices to teach democracy in a conflicted society, build shared education, teach across ethnic boundaries, and implement these methods within the education system nationwide.
The Center also helps deepen the experience of shared campus life, enriches curricula, encourages dialogue on sensitive issues, advances the use of Arabic language in signage and web material, and assists Arab students in mastering academic Hebrew.
With additional resources, the Center will be able to develop a national teacher training curriculum, engage in international research, enhance shared campus life, and reach out beyond the campus to the surrounding Arab and Jewish communities to become a thriving hub for cultural and educational dialogue and experiences.
Training Haredi educators
The ultra-Orthodox community, which comprises 11% of the Israeli population, is one of the fastest-growing and poorest sectors in Israel. While the independent Haredi school system provides a rigorous religious education, it does not fully offer a core curriculum of mathematics, science, civics and English. Too many Haredi children are thus relegated to a life of poverty – now and in the future. The OECD has warned that this system, which institutionalizes social gaps, is unsustainable and threatens the financial viability of the State of Israel.
The need to train Haredi educators and begin to close this alarming gap motivated Beit Berl College to establish the Center for Haredi Educators. Forty Haredi men and women enrolled in the 2014 inaugural class to obtain teaching certificates and B.Ed. degrees. One year later, with special arrangements for separate classes for men and women, as well as kosher facilities, more than 200 Haredi students are now studying at the Center. The College is raising funds in order to provide Haredi students with scholarships, supplemental English courses, preparatory programs in math and Hebrew, and counseling and job placement assistance.
Through mentoring, global student exchange programs and other attractive incentives, the College is opening its doors wide to all young Israelis and international students eager to embrace new professional and social horizons.
Bold campus revitalization
Beit Berl Colleges academic development strategy aims to increase the student population by 30% by 2025, through an expansive array of current and exciting new degree programs. This ambitious initiative demands an equally bold plan for campus revitalization. The campuss physical infrastructure aims to accommodate both the flourishing student body and modern green building techniques. The long-term blueprint for growth involves the construction of smart classrooms, using environmentally-friendly building technology, and creating new laboratories and design facilities, while preserving signature green spaces. This development plan offers a wide range of exciting naming and dedication opportunities.
The complete renovation of the current sports facility into a dynamic hub of smart classrooms for over 600 students will kick off the Colleges substantial transformation into a state-of-the-art 21st century institution. Highlights of the environmentally-friendly structure will include a new wing, a multi-purpose lecture hall, a glass lobby, and an extended roof providing shaded recreational areas around the building.