Margarita Kantor & Sanna Erelä, Project Coordinators, with Jennifer N.
In just the past few years, our Shabbat school seminars have served over 600 people from around 120 local Messianic congregations. As much as we rejoice in having reached so many people, we are aware that there are always people who wish to participate, but are unable to attend a Friday seminar. (In Israel, Friday is a day off for most people, but not for all.) This was the impetus for us deciding to offer teaching in webinar form – a modern, convenient format for everyone. The past spring and summer were full of active preparation for this huge new project, a cooperation between us and our partner organization, Medallion. Together, we decided on the crucial topics, wrote some of the scripts, carefully chose the teachers and prepared for all the different aspects of filming.
Here at the Caspari Center, our project coordinator, Margarita, has been working day and night to see this project through, and was excited to share some news with us:
Can you give us an update on the course?
We worked overtime to launch the course on the scheduled date of November 1st. Creating a brand new program out of nothing is always more time-consuming than you expect it to be. It can be even harder in Israel, with so many people involved in production, and some of them failing to deliver on time. So launching the course on schedule was a great achievement! And now our first group of students is currently going into their second month of studies.
What can you tell us about the structure of the course?
After many in-depth discussions on structure and content, we decided on the following: the course will provide teaching on twenty of the most essential topics for raising children, both in the congregation and at home. Each topic will be covered over the course of one month. On the first day of the month, participants will receive a link to three video lessons, one of which will include a homework assignment. At the end of the month, the students will join the lecturer of that particular topic in an online discussion.
I’m happy to report that the first online meeting in November went very well. The students shared openly and were very engaged in the discussion.
What challenges did you encounter? How did the filming go? And did you, yourself, learn something new along the way?
Personally, I always enjoy a good challenge! Challenges are the only way to grow, and without them, work becomes boring. When we began, we had no idea how time- and money-consuming this project would be. Neither we, nor Medallion had any prior experience in the field of online studies. Now, we are learning so much, and it will benefit us in the future. I have learned so much, even in unexpected areas such as doing make-up for filming.
One of the challenges was finding the right teachers. We looked for professional lecturers with a degree in education from among the local Messianic community. The population of Messianic believers in Israel is so small, and while it is possible to find excellent Shabbat school teachers, it’s much more challenging to find excellent teachers with university degrees. But we found them!
We had the occasional filming concern. At one point, we were apprehensive about filming a lecturer who didn’t read Hebrew very fluently. This teacher turned out to be one of the best, requiring the fewest number of takes. We saw how God makes “the first to be last, and the last to be first”.
One of the funny things for me is that I now associate the filming process with dark chocolate. A day of filming is long and arduous. There were days that we spent twelve hours straight in the studio. And dark chocolate, beloved by each member of our team, was the thing that kept us going!
What do you have planned next?
On the technical side, we want to create a website specifically for this project. Until now, we’ve been doing everything through email, with me as the intermediary. A dedicated website where each participant has their own personal area will allow the students much greater independence, and will free me up, as well. It will also enable students to interact directly with the teacher.
Let’s continue keeping Margarita and the students in our prayers!