The title, “Dr. Nurit Reshef’s Hebrew Funland” seems to suggest some sort of carnival-esque webpage with flashing lights and rainbow colors. Instead of finding a page full of games, Dr. Nurit Reshef ‘s homepage displays an extensive list of informative links that lead to a plethora of Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist pages. When arriving at the actual “Jewish Funland” page, games like “Hebrew Word Match” and “Bible Challenge” appear, but then there is an “Israeli Prime Ministers” word search game in the midst of all the others. The combination of the basic word search game with a topic like Israeli political leadership seemed like a strange mix. Even more striking was the information presented on the “Zionism” page, which chronicles the history of Israel through games about political symbols, leaders, timelines, cities, and the Hebrew language. After a semester of studying the history of Israel intently in a college-level class, I still find it difficult to quite understand the integrated history of the country. But Dr. Reshef chooses to take incredibly complex and serious information about such topics as Zionism and implement simple games to present these specific topics of Judaism in more approachable ways.
Immediately, it became apparent that Dr. Nurit Reshef wanted kids, as well as adults, to learn about and understand important elements of the Jewish religion, culture, and history. When selecting the “Landscape of Heritage Link,” one is directed to a collaborative site created by both The Jewish National Fund of Canada and Dr. Reshef, where visitors can access very detailed games on information such as plants, animals, and fruits and vegetables of Israel, among other things. These aspects reflect the goals of the JNF nongovernmental organization to promote development and environmentalism in Israel (Jewish National Fund). There was even a link on this page where one could hear different historic and meaningful music to the Jewish community. The site paints an especially detailed picture of the life in Israel, beyond the Jewish religion or the Zionist movement. The cultural site also demonstrates the importance of collaborating with other Jewish organizations in order to provide a more complete picture of Judaism. Due to the many aspects of Judasism presented, as well as the culture and history of Israel, the the site should appeal to a broad Jewish population, as well as non-Jewish individuals of varying knowledge levels. The “Zionism” page is a great example of a learning tool for both Jewish and non-Jewish people because it includes information about Israel that would be interesting to a Jewish child learning the history of his or her religion, as well as a non-Jewish college student seeking to better understand Zionism in Israel. An interesting point to notice about the games is that they are not exclusively religious or Jewish because Dr. Reshef incorporates secular games like “Hangman” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” as well as using an interplay of secular and Jewish images to decorate the site. While the website portrays diverse and specific topics related to Judaism, it is by no means an exclusively Jewish site and can provide information to a more secular population through its informative games.Dr. Reshef’s website also provides a link to Talmud Torah School, which is a preschool through junior high school in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In the mission statement of the school, the author writes that “every Jewish child deserves a Jewish education” with “appreciation of the history, wisdom, spiritual depth and ethical guidance of Judaism” (Mission, Talmud Torah School). The Funland website also provides a link for Edmonton public schools (http://www.epsb.ca/). These links support the idea of the site as an educational center for Jewish and non-Jewish people, instead of simply a location to encounter games with Jewish content for a Jewish population. Also, Dr. Reshef herself has worked in education in several circumstances and is listed as a collaborator in the Technology Integration Planning Services for Edmonton Public Schools (About Us, TIPS website). The original website was begun in 1997 when Reshef was the curriculum coordinator at Talmud Torah School, but it was not until 1999 that the website began to acquire its games (Internet Archive). Trying to present Jewish history and political information to a young student would necessarily require some innovative learning tool such as a informative games. This site both functions as a learning tool for Jewish students, as well as curious non-Jewish individuals, by presenting a very detailed view of the complex topics related to Judaism through mostly simple, and secular, computer games.
About Us.TIPS: Technology Integration Planning Services, 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2010 <http://https://sites.google.com/a/share.epsb.ca/tips-resources/Home>.
Dr. Nurit Reshef, Dr. Nurit Reshef's Hebrew Funland. 2008. 9 Dec. 2010 <http://www.ualberta.ca/~yreshef/nurit.htm>.
Internet Archive: Wayback Machine, 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2010 <http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.ualberta.ca/~yreshef/nurit.htm>.
Jewish National Fund.2010. 9 Dec. 2010 <http://www.jnf.ca/>.
Mission. Talmud Torah School, 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2010 <http://www.talmudtorahsociety.com/about/mission/>.