Federation’s CJE brings escape room to town
Photo: Sara Mancuso, Akiba Yavneh
Akiba Yavneh faculty and escape room facilitator, Peta Silansky.

DALLAS — How quickly can you solve different challenges to find the launch code and send SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft to the moon? That’s the question groups across Dallas are asked in a unique portable “escape room” experience. In this one-hour escape room, small groups solve various challenges to find the launch code and send SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft to the moon. As the clock counts down, participants learn about Israeli history, arts and culture, Jewish mysticism, STEM — and how to accomplish a challenging mission as a team.
This program was introduced to the Schultz Fellows program and was purchased as a community resource by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s Center for Jewish Education (CJE). This Escape Room experience has been shared in Dallas with more than 200 people, including community educators, leaders, students and families.
According to Melissa Essler, assistant director at URJ Greene Family Camp, the escape room was more than she expected, “This was the surprise hit of Family Retreat! Even young kids loved it and families enjoyed working together.”
Developed by The iCenter for Israel Education, the SpaceIL-themed escape room offers a different kind of Israel education. The iCenter, which serves as the North American educational partner for SpaceIL, has experimented with this approach to education for years. The SpaceIL escape room has been used with all types of audiences, including Jewish summer camp directors, educators and leaders at day schools, congregational schools, rabbinic programs, teens and college students.
“Escape rooms spark creativity, develop teamwork skills, and engage learners in new and different ways,” said Dan Tatar, who runs escape rooms for The iCenter. “These immersive experiences activate problem-solving skills, tap into curiosity, and are really fun!”
Participants describe the escape room as entertaining, challenging, team-building and collaborative. Middle School students at Akiba-Yavneh challenged one another to complete the challenge in the least amount of time.
SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, succeeded in getting its Beresheet craft to the surface of the moon last April in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. Although Beresheet crash-landed, plans already are in place for a future Beresheet 2 mission.
The “Escape Room-in-a-Suitcase” is available for loan to area schools, youth groups, adult groups and more and is ready to launch at a location near you. For more information on bringing this unique and immersive experience to your group, contact Melissa Bernstein at mbernstein@jewishdallas.org.
FLY ME TO THE MOON Escape Room is made possible by funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s Center for Jewish Education in partnership with The iCenter.

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