By Susan R. Eisenstein
August 4, 2022
Founded in 2001, StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, nonprofit and nonpartisan Israel education organization, working to inspire and educate people of all ages. SWU also challenges misinformation and fights against antisemitism. And now, SWU has opened the newly expanded Evelyn and Dr. Shmuel Katz Education Center (Katz Education Center) in the heart of Jerusalem, 25 King David Street, near the Old City, Mamilla Mall and the King David Hotel.
The Katz Education Center is specially designed as a gathering place and to help visitors answer the question: “If you were in a TV studio, faced with tough questions about Israel, could you answer them?”
“The new facility will work as both a physical and virtual learning center, allowing us to reach massive new audiences around the world,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO and co-founder of StandWithUs. “It will provide an interactive, immersive Israel experience that will bring tens of thousands of new visitors through the door each year, and will empower young people and adults alike to fight antisemitism and educate their peers and communities about Israel. We are immensely grateful to our Board and donors, including the Katz family and Janice and Steve Hefter, who have supported this expansion with significant funding.”
Michael Dickson, executive director of StandWithUs Israel noted: “Since we opened our Jerusalem office, we have hosted thousands of students and tourists from all over the world each year. Our programs have grown quickly, and we have simply run out of space. We took additional space connected to our offices, and now have the opportunity to expand our innovative work to accommodate even more visitors, significantly increasing our outreach to students, community members, tourists and groups. With our digital audience in the millions each week, we will also house a state-of-the-art studio and virtual learning center so that we can produce more educational content.”
Using the latest technology, the SWU Katz Education Center experience simulates the TV studio experience and builds on it. The audience is wrapped in an immersive session that gives the visitor a fast-moving and powerful educational primer workshop on all things Israel, while a display and media wall make the individual part of the experience. It is a one-of-a-kind, up-to-date information and resource hotspot, with ongoing events and activities taking place all year round.
The programs aim to educate and inform about all the current key issues related to Israel, portraying the real Israel, which can truly be seen from a firsthand perspective. The Katz Education Center offers diverse content, from expert written materials to a wide spectrum of sessions, tours and workshops, including the opportunity to enhance one’s digital skills. All these provide a platform for pro-Israel activism and effective tools to counter misinformation.
The expanded Education Center contains a state-of-the-art auditorium, TV studio and editing suite, an interactive virtual learning center, seminar and meeting room, education and digital hub, a large kosher kitchen for events and an innovative, interactive “Studio Experience” to educate visitors about all things Israel. The studio is fully equipped to conduct interviews with thought leaders and celebrities while broadcasting StandWithUs videos to millions—with the capability to converse with people both on location and internationally. Further content creation appeals to divergent audiences, Jewish and non-Jewish, young and old, in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
The on-camera, interactive studio experience uses advanced technology and is where groups and individuals can learn to enhance their debate skills and become energized about becoming better ambassadors for Israel. Through a simulated TV news presenter, large audiences learn point/counterpoint skills by watching their peers and learning from experts. They learn more about Israel and can sign up to be an ambassador, via an activity utilizing cutting-edge interactive digital screens.
The Digital Hub houses the social media/digital operation and is also a space to teach online skills to groups of all ages who would like to support digital educational and advocacy skills campaigns. In times of crises, the facility acts as a “situation room” hub to lead pro-Israel activity on social media, the platform for today and tomorrow’s voices for Israel.
Commenting on SWU’s 21 years of accomplishments and the newly designed Katz Education Center, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog said: “StandWithUs has been a pioneer in bringing cutting edge communications, educational resources and grassroots activism tools to the entire pro-Israel community. I have no doubt that through this new Education Center in Jerusalem you will continue to deeply impact people from all across the globe. Thank you for all that you are doing for Israel and the Jewish People—Mazel Tov!”
The expanded Katz Education Center is now open for visitors, tourists, families and groups. Since its May 2022 opening, the center already has reached thousands of young visitors from all over the world. Sessions last up to two hours and are recommended for ages 12 and up. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday the Center is closed unless privately rented by a family celebrating a Jewish life cycle event such as a bar or bat mitzvah.
For more information, view the Center https://www.standwithus.com/israelcenter
Phone in Israel: 972-02-636-0200
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