Jewish Academy of Orlando student wins International Heritage Competition


April 27, 2018

Maya Brenner

Maya Brenner, a fourth-grade student at the Jewish Academy of Orlando, was one of 50 winners in the 2018 Worldwide Jewish International Heritage Competition. The competition, called "My Family Story," is now in its 23rd year and is sponsored by Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel. The competition has students competing from 160 institutions, representing 28 countries worldwide. Participating countries include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, England, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Latvia, Mexico, Paraguay, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, USA and Venezuela. There are approximately 20,000 Jewish youth who participate each year; this is the second year that the Jewish Academy has participated and the first time a student has won.

As a winner in the competition, Maya is awarded a free trip to Israel to be part of the presentation of the projects in June. The projects are displayed at Beit Hatfutsot throughout the year.

"We are so excited for Maya and her family and that she will be representing our school and community in Israel," said Alan Rusonik, head of school. "This project is an important component of our Hebrew and Judaic Studies curriculum which helps our students connect to and strengthen their Jewish identity."

My Family Story is a fun-filled, meaningful, personal, global and multigenerational Jewish heritage journey to the past, where the exploration of one's Jewish family story, genealogy and traditions culminates in an artistic work.

My Family Story goes beyond the typical family tree. It connects the younger generation, between 10-15 years old, to their personal stories, their family stories, and the broader story of the Jewish people.

My Family Story, a far-reaching educational initiative, is one of Beit Hatfutsot's most innovative flagship programs. Students participate in a year-long curriculum, embarking on an engaging, personal, experiential, international and multigenerational Jewish heritage project. Through rigorous research and inspiring creativity, the students produce a final art display illustrating their personal exploration into their family roots and connection to the greater story of the Jewish people.

For more information about the Jewish Academy of Orlando or to arrange a visit to our school, please contact Amy Polacek, admissions coordinator, at or call 407-647-0713.


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