Photo Credit: Dina Mann
The "Cheder Tanach" (Bible Room) at Aseh Chayil School in Efrat. Parents identify with the school's National Religious and Modern Orthodox ideology, and its allegiance to the old-time HaPoel HaMizrachi path.

The organization, over its 25 years of activity, has equipped the school with computer labs, built the Tanach room, and assisted in building the Holocaust learning center. On a yearly basis, we fund extra teaching staff, making sure the children study in smaller classes than provided by the State, and allowing small level-focused study groups for certain subjects. Every year the organization funds activities for a year-long interactive study experience on a pertinent topic of community importance – Such as the Hebrew Language, the Founding of the State, Efrat History (at the occasion of 30 years to Efrat’s establishment). The organization contributes toward the physical conditions in the school, such as playgrounds (including an interactive outdoor science park), water coolers, storage facilities and electronic equipment.

I am active in the school because I believe parents need to be involved in their children’s school. Specifically in this case, parents need to empower and improve the school beyond what is provided by the national public school system. I feel that the bare minimum that is provided by the education ministry is lacking in its ability to provide all we wish for our children’s education, and I feel that complaining is not warranted or beneficial. I believe that if we want something additional or different, it is upon us to personally work with the school administration to make that happen.

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An added perk to being involved with the school, is that the staff knows me and sees me a lot. They know I am approachable and cooperative. This pays off when there are issues to discuss about my own children.

First of all, I’m just around a lot, so I have more frequent opportunities to run into teachers who interact with my kids, and hear more frequent updates. And when issues need my involvement, they tend to be brought to my attention and addressed more quickly, and with a high degree of coordination between my kid, us as parents, and the staff. But this is not the reason I got involved, just an added benefit I discovered.

V: Have your children had any difficulties with the education system? If so, how have you handled these issues?

Dina: I would define it more that some of my children have certain personal challenges that manifest themselves as potential difficulties for succeeding within the education system.

Issues have been handled and continue to be monitored on a regular basis through close cooperation between school staff, the child, parents and health professionals. I find that best results are achieved when all information is shared freely and up front. Both parents and teachers share tips with each other on how to connect best with the child and bring out the best in him/her.

I make sure to let teachers know what strategies I am using at home to achieve cooperation on homework or home study assignments. I make sure a child gets positive reinforcement from us and from teachers. For example, for some children, I make sure to tell teachers to give the child recognition at school even for partial homework completion, to make sure the child is experiencing an overall feeling of success and progress in his learning experience, and not reaching frustration leading to even less motivation.

I also let a teacher know of any specific aids I notice help my child. If I know my child fiddling with a small toy or ball enhances his concentration, I make sure to coordinate with the teacher for her to allow that (or something similar that will not distract her or others) in class. Raising this as soon as I am aware of it achieves two goals – It neutralizes any possible conflict that may ensue surrounding this fiddling had it not been raised in advance, and it gives the teacher and the child real tools to achieve the positive learning expected in class.

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Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar Gold medal charity. The author's political opinions are her own and not endorsed by her employer.

5 COMMENTS

  1. When the Jewish Agency unified all Zionist organziations, Aliyah rates by religious Zionists such as Bnei Akiva was relevant. Now the only religious olehs are those who come to live on Israeli welfare and not serve the country and its holy army, hiding behind a wealthy rebbe in a fake yeshiva.

  2. Yechiel, I don't really know where you get your information about new olim … I am a toshevet chozeret while my husband and kids are Olim Chadashim. My oldest came just a year ago to Israel with no Hebrew and now he is serving in a special tactical unit in Givaati .We do not hide behind any wealthy rebbe since most are pretty poor.. ….my other son (15) goes to yeshiva and works as a gardener, dog walker, snow shoveller and a kidsitter, in his spare time.

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