Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
Each morning they line up, rain or shine, several rows deep, just before the start of class. After the principal says a few words and wishes them a good day, the hundreds of students at an elementary school in central Israel burst into “Hatikva,” the national anthem, in a reaffirmation of their loyalty to the state.
Immediately afterward, those assembled recite Ani Ma’amin (“I believe”), Maimonides’s articulation of one of the cardinal principles of the Jewish faith, namely, belief in the coming of the redeemer.
The entire ceremony lasts just a few minutes but it encapsulates a profoundly eternal lesson – the importance of instilling in Israeli children national pride, Jewish self-respect and hope for a better future.
It took my wife and me several years – yes, years – to persuade the local school to incorporate this modest little program at the start of every day. But it was well worth the effort, because its fruits are sure to be significant and long lasting.
As Baron de Montesquieu, the great 18th-century political philosopher, noted, the promotion of love for one’s country “ought to be the principal business of education.” But the sensible baron went further, pointing out that “the surest way of instilling it into children is for parents to set them an example.”
And indeed, with the start of the new year, what could be more appropriate than for Israeli society to recommit itself to the basic values of patriotism and prayer? After all, it is their absence from our public life that has contributed so greatly to the ethical and political decay that has set into our governing system.
When photos of the ruling coalition begin to resemble a police lineup, and serious allegations swirl around our head of state, it should be clear that something has gone horribly and terribly amiss.
Some political leaders appear more concerned with what is in their pockets, and their pants, than with the safety and well-being of the entire country. The symptoms of this malaise are all around us, from the war in Lebanon to the string of corruption scandals to the failure on the part of our politicians to take responsibility for their actions. When those who lead us are no longer guided by a sense of national destiny, it is inevitable that their personal urges and agendas will come to the fore.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “Do we wish men to be virtuous? Then let us begin by making them love their country.” It is this basic and fundamental truth that we need to embrace once again, that we need to reclaim.
This should be the ABC of Israel’s educational system, the basis upon which a healthy populace and productive citizenry can and must be built.
It may take time, but if we start again to impart these values to our youth, we might just succeed in raising a generation of leaders worthy of the name.
The tools for doing so are all around us. All we need do is put in a little more effort, and change will come.
If local schools don’t already do so, it’s up to us to make sure they hang flags in every classroom, all year round. There is no reason why Israel’s national colors should be taken out of the drawer only once or twice a year for special occasions.
And parents need to talk to their children’s principals about what their schools are doing to build a sense of civic pride and national self-esteem among the student body. If there is time in the day to talk about triangles and parallelograms, is it any less important to be teaching what it means to be a good Jew and a patriotic Israeli?
The Land of Israel itself is a living curriculum, with a plethora of national, historical and religious sites that tell our people’s story and naturally evoke pride in its unique and special saga. We are blessed with so many powerful symbols, from the Western Wall to the Cave of the Patriarchs to Rachel’s Tomb, which too many Israelis no longer go to see.
Perhaps it is time for an Israeli “birthright,” modeled on the program that exposes Diaspora youth to Israel, so that our own children learn to love and cherish every corner of this land. People are always complaining about how small the country is. But if that is the case, then why don’t our kids get to see more of it?
About the Author: Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s leading English-language daily, and he previously served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.
Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.
Since the passing of the Governance bill legislation on March 11, 2014, new alignments have become to appear in Israeli politics.
The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.
Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.
Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.
Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians
Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists
In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site
Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”
The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps
Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.
How many sites that tell you to check your politics at the door have 10,000 likes?
Speaking in his native German, Schulz used the opportunity to blast Israel.
Ever since he vanished, the American government had repeatedly asserted that Levinson was a private businessman — his own safety.
For the second time in the past three months, Israel on Sunday declared its intention to build over 1,000 housing units in areas beyond the 1967 lines.
Nearly seven decades since the end of World War II, Poland is once again turning on its Jews.
In a stunning move last week, the lower house of the Polish parliament rejected a bill that would have restored the legality of shechita, or kosher slaughter, by a vote of 222 to 178.
Last Friday, the Western Wall underwent an unwelcome transformation from sacred site to media circus as the group known as the Women of the Wall sought to hold a decidedly non-traditional prayer service.
The state of Israel this week turned 65, defying history and the odds to celebrate its continued existence in a very dangerous part of the world.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israel-needs-a-lot-more-patriotism-and-prayer/2006/09/27/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: