Compass

The Beit Project Assoc.

Grant Awarded: 
2013
Country: 
Spain (Barcelona)
Areas of activity: 
Teens,
Children,
Families,
Educators,
Interfaith
Background: 

The Beit Project was established by a group of young Jewish architects and educators who sought to develop a new approach to the preservation and usage of Jewish heritage sites in Europe. Based in Barcelona, the project transforms European Jewish heritage sites into meaningful educational and cultural resources, making them places of study and encounters for Jewish and non-Jewish high school students.

The Beit Project runs intensive on site workshops in the midst of Jewish heritage sites for students aged 13-15. In each workshop half the pupils come from a local Jewish school, the other half from a non-Jewish school situated in immediate proximity of the heritage site. The first group bring to the project an intimate relationship with Jewish culture while the others bring the close connection to the geographic area.

At the start of the project participating students build little learning booths - mobile study houses - which are set up in the midst of a Jewish heritage place. The study houses were designed and custom made for the Beit Project. This transforms the urban space for the duration of the project,  involves and informs local inhabitants about the students’ work. The project is divided into workshops that follow four educational sequences: a time to connect, a time to understand, a time to interpret, a time to unveil.

Using the Chavruta model, students are split into pairs who engage in joint learning, but rather than studying texts, they interpret heritage places and study the multiple layers of a site, using it to discuss universal questions about their city and society. For example, placing the Beit Project in a Jewish Ghetto may lead to the study of contemporary urban and social segregation. The project remains in each venue for six to ten weeks, during which between six and ten classes take part in the workshops.

Since its establishment in mid-2010, the Beit Project ran workshops in Rome, Paris and Barcelona for some 700 students and teachers. Participating schools have agreed to remain partners and some have already run a second cycle of the project. An example of the project in Rome can be viewed on Youtube (http://youtu.be/RLDuBpQEXrA). In each city the Beit Project partners with local Jewish museums and heritage stake holders and builds a local educational team. Currently local educators include clowns, architects, artists, actors and street performers, all of whom have been trained in a special seminar to work with the school children.

Capacity building project: 

This project is very exciting because it combines education, heritage preservation, interfaith work and citizenship into a fairly straight forward concept. The Beit Project has already successfully completed projects in several cities. Not enough European heritage projects focus on uses of Jewish material heritage sites, but the Beit Project seems to do it. A project like this can be rolled out across Europe at a relatively low cost and good value for money.

Number of employees:

3 part-time