Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Experience Counts: Chapter 5 - Educational Programs


Objective: to extend and expand educational opportunities for older persons


The Bar-Ilan Brookdale Program in Applied Gerontology was established in 1977, with funding from the Brookdale Foundation of New York City, at Bar-Ilan University, one of Israel's four major universities with over 12,000 students. The activities of the program include:

Senior Auditors Program: Anyone over age 60 is entitled to enroll in a wide range of university classes, alongside regular degree students, at a special reduced tuition fee. Courses may be taken in sociology, economics, political science, education, criminology, geography, English literature, history, Bible and the natural and physical sciences. This program was the first of its kind in Israel and has been copied by other Israeli universities.

Center for Third Age Learning: In 1987, this center was established to offer courses, workshops, training courses, lecture series, etc. in areas not available to seniors in the regular curriculum. Seniors can study computers, improving learning skills, social psychology, the stock market, gerontology, and interpersonal relationships, among other topics.

During the last 17 years, more than 14,000 older learners have participated in both programs, with enrollment exceeding 2,000 senior students for the 1993-94 academic year. Some of the more innovative aspects of the program include:

Computers for the Third Age: The program is committed to the belief that the personal computer offers an extraordinary opportunity to enrich, enable and empower older persons, whatever their physical condition. For the last six years, the program has offered courses in computer literacy to more than 2,000 senior students. Courses are offered to persons over the age of 50 in basic computer skills, spread sheeting, word-processing, BASIC and WINDOWS.

Seniors as Researchers in the Study of Aging: In 1990, the Program pioneered in offering a course on "Training Seniors as Researchers in the Study of Aging". This course has been offered to 5 groups of students on an experimental basis. The project is based on the commitment to develop new roles for seniors at ever— higher levels of complexity. Older persons are both capable and competent to conduct research on their social situations and those of their peers. Moreover, they bring to such research work a perspective often absent from the work of younger researchers. The first topic chosen for study was that of elder abuse. Reports of the study have been published in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect in the U.S. and in Action for Elder Abuse in the UK. Other topics studied in the program include the situation of elderly Russian immigrants, the effect of pre-retirement training and adjustment to retirement, and an evaluation of a home-bound learning project.

Housebound Learning — Reaching Out to Older Shut-Ins: Homebound Learning provides educational outreach service for older adults who are homebound or institutionalized on a permanent or temporary basis. The program provides shut-ins with an individualized one-on-one or small-group learning program delivered in their own home or institutional residence. The project was initiated in 1992 on a trial basis at an old-age home. The project is carried out by trained, retired volunteers who provide participants with educational resources, encouragement and educational needs assessment.

Two-Year Senior Leadership Certificate Program: Since 1990, the Senior Leadership Program has been providing retired senior executives with opportunities to pursue post-retirement careers in community leadership. These students pay full tuition for the opportunity to learn new ways to make a contribution to solving Israel's pressing social problems. The program was recently expanded to those who require financial aid to participate in the program. The participants in the senior leadership program have substantial experience in private industry, business, the public sector, the defense services and the professions, and have demonstrated their ability to perform well in competitive situations. Graduates of the program are pursuing post-retirement careers in public interest organizations, social and human welfare organizations, and/or local or national government.

Innovative Aspects:

— provides senior citizens with a broad range of opportunities to continue to expand their horizons and develop new skills

Sponsor: Bar-Ilan Brookdale Program, Bar-Ilan University

Finance: Private contributions; students' fees

For Further Information:

Bar-Ilan Brookdale Program in Applied Gerontology
Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900
Tel. 972-3-5318111; FAX 972-3-5318871


Objectives: To deepen respect for older persons and thereby contribute to human values

To develop a better understanding of their own future aging among school-age children

This program takes its name from Psalms 1:3, "He shall be like a tree planted by the water, which brings forth fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither". The name was chosen because the program teaches about aging and the elderly as a part of the life cycle. The curriculum is an interdisciplinary one which focuses on growth and human development.

The curriculum was developed over a five year period with the assistance of a steering committee headed by Shimon Bergman, Prof. Emeritus of Gerontology at Tel Aviv University and Deputy Director of the JDC-Brookdale Institute. The curriculum is designed around 16 hours of formal class instruction and additional activities outside the classroom based on a "contract" with the teacher. Activities outside the classroom may include interviews with grandparents and neighbors as well as observation at community centers, nursing homes and other community organizations for the elderly.

The curriculum is designed to foster an understanding of the life cycle and the roles people play at the various stages of the cycle. The classroom curriculum includes simulations and games in which students imagine themselves at different ages. The materials developed for the program include a textbook for the students and a guide for the teacher. The textbook contains factual information, research findings and statistics, stories, and legends and proverbs, and includes material from a diversity of cultures throughout the world.

The program was implemented on an experimental basis in 20 classes in schools in Tel Aviv and was evaluated and monitored by staff of the School of Education of Tel Aviv University.

As a supplement to the curriculum, audiovisual materials are available from the Audiovisual Center for the Elderly (see pages 48-50).

The program has been approved by the Ministry of Education for use in schools as an optional course in grades 6-8. The program is currently being promoted within the educational system through study days for principals and inspectors, as well as in-service training for teachers on ways to use the program in schools.

Special Features of the Program:

— The curriculum is designed in a highly economic way to provide the basic material in only 16 hours of formal class work.

— The program integrates activities involving the family, friends, neighbors and community organizations.

— The use of simulations and games contribute to the effectiveness of the program.

Sponsor: Center for Educational Technology of the Ministry of Education; JDC-ESHEL (The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel); JDC-Brookdale Institute

Financing: Same as above

For More Information:

Coordinator of Training and Manpower Development
POB 3489
Tel. 972-2-6557128; Fax 972-2-5661244


Objectives: To use audiovisual technology as a tool to disseminate information on issues in aging to older persons, professionals working with the elderly, and students


The Audiovisual Center for the Elderly is an independent non-profit organization established in 1979 by the JDC-Brookdale Institute and JDC-ESHEL. The Center combines a unique range of activities that help stimulate a broad impact on the welfare of the elderly. The Center is an ongoing source of new and innovative techniques and ways to use audiovisual material more effectively. The activities of the Center include:

Training Films and Television Programs

The Center produces instructional films on a variety of topics related to aging, both for the elderly and their families as well as for those working with the elderly and the general public. Subjects of recent films have included: exercises for the disabled, intergenerational relationships, leisure activities and oral hygiene. Many of the films are translated into a number of languages for use by the many groups of elderly immigrants and the Arabic-speaking community.

Lending Libraries

The Center operates 12 lending libraries throughout the country, where video tapes can be screened and borrowed for a 2-day period.

Mobile Audiovisual Unit

A particularly unique feature of the center is a mobile unit which brings films to social clubs, day centers and homes for the aged across the country who lack the equipment and know-how to otherwise make use of the material. Screenings are followed by group discussions led by a trained member of the mobile unit's staff, enhancing the significance of the films and making this kind of experience available on a highly professional and broad basis. A particular focus of the unit is the dissemination of information and training materials on health promotion activities. Over 1,800 films are shown to 60,000 viewers annually.

Workshops and Film Festivals for Professionals in Aging

Special training workshops are conducted for professional manpower working with the elderly, integrated with the screening of new videos and lectures by experts. Recent workshops have focused on sleep problems among older persons, coping with retirement, and the special difficulties of elderly Ethiopian immigrants. An additional goal is to expose professionals to the effective use of audiovisual materials and to this end film festivals, which are very well-attended, are held in major cities throughout Israel.

Serving the Schools

The Center develops programs on aging for Israel's schools and provides suitable audiovisual materials and guides to assist the schools in training student volunteers who work with the elderly. The Center also holds training seminars for teachers and volunteer coordinators.

Community Communications

A number of new projects have been developed to expand the efforts to reach both important subgroups among the elderly and the broader public:

Community Television

With the development of cable television in Israel, a special effort has been made to make effective use of public programming. One major thrust has been to turn to the elderly themselves to take part in the production of audiovisual material. The first workshop to train retired elderly volunteers to prepare programs to be broadcast on cable community television was held in 1990 and workshops are now being conducted in 15 communities with the participation of over 200 volunteers. The project is a joint program of the Audiovisual Center, JDC-ESHEL and local associations for the elderly in the various communities. The volunteers learn how to conduct an interview, prepare an investigative report, write a script, edit and film videos. Each workshop spans about 100 hours, including weekly 5-hour classroom meetings and meetings on location for filming and editing. The workshops are taught by professionals in the field, in conjunction with guest lecturers on different topics. Criteria for acceptance include an ability for written and verbal expression; prior experience in teaching, journalism or community work; and previous involvement in volunteer activities. Upon completing the course, the graduates work through their local associations for the aged on stories to be broadcast over cable television. As an example, the chapter in the city of Rehovot has now broadcast 20 programs from the local television station.

Closed Circuit Television in Homes for the Aged

An experimental project has begun in a nursing home in Ashdod to produce in-house television programs for the residents. A mini-studio has been built with the help of volunteers and staff members.


An extensive evaluation was conducted of the pilot phase of the program before it became a national service.


Establishment: Meyerhoff Foundation of Baltimore

Jubilee Fund of Bank Leumi

JDC-Brookdale Institute

Ongoing Financing: JDC-ESHEL

Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

Sales and loans of videos to organizations and general public

Many of the films are commissioned by organizations working with the elderly, including JDC-ESHEL and JDC-Israel.


Shinar, D. 1984. Communication on Behalf of the Elderly. Hebrew University, Jerusalem. (Hebrew)

For More Information:

Audiovisual Center for the Elderly
41 Keren Hayesod Street
Jerusalem 94188
Tel. 972-2-6512312; Fax 972-2-6536403