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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
School Desk

Rolling the dice on ‘Israpoly’

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Children from Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy learn about Israel by playing board games like ‘Israpoly’ on May 28.

The board resembled Monopoly, but instead of vying for Boardwalk and Park Place, students at Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) Academy on May 28 landed on sites like the Damascus Gate, the Tower of David and Ben Gurion Airport (where they had to pay 100 shekels for travel tax). 

The game was “Israpoly,” one of 30 such diversions created by parent volunteer Donna Salamon for SAR’s celebration of Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day. The Israeli national holiday commemorates Israel’s renewed control of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War of 1967.

Along with playing the homemade trivia games, students wore blue and white to represent allegiance to Israel and gathered outside of the school to pray.

“It’s a good way for them to demonstrate their knowledge,” said fourth-grade teacher Bina Asher as her students rolled large dice and moved around the board, using fake Israeli currency to “buy” Israeli landmarks. 

Ms. Salamon based the games on each grade’s Israeli history curriculum, comprised of four books per grade. Rabbi Yonah Fuld, a former principal at the school, wrote the curriculum. It focuses on the history of Israel from ancient times up to the present. 

One board game bore images of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who revived the Hebrew language, and Edmond James de Rothschild, who donated money to the Zionist cause in the early 1900s. Another game resembling Chutes and Ladders required students to answer trivia questions based on what they had learned in class. 

“Which holiday are the willow plants used for?” read one trivia card. Students correctly guessed Sukkot.

During another round, students had to decide whether it was true or false that Israel cleans seawater to use as drinking water.

“True!” one team responded correctly. 

The games evoked memories of an April Passover trip to Israel for Riverdale resident Nadiv Edleman, 8.

“There were a lot of things I recognized,” he said. “I didn’t care if I got a high number. I just liked the questions.” 

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