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February 7, 2016 / 28 Shevat, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘education’

Jewish School Year Starts with Revolutionary Curriculum

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

(Alon Shvut, Israel) Jewish schools throughout North America as well as in South Africa and Australia are introducing a revolutionary curriculum to their students this academic year. Over 1,300 students in over twenty schools will be using the new program designed by the Halacha Education Center (HEC). The programs designed by HEC represent a major overhaul of the classic Jewish educational experience.

The HEC has taken the original sources and prime texts of Jewish law and developed new exciting, user-friendly, accessible textbooks, teacher’s guide, videos, and audio-visual material that engage the students in a deep, enjoyable and memorable fashion. The new materials are likely the first significant reformatting and presentation of Judaism’s ancient laws and wisdom.

“The curriculum is an extraordinary experience,” declared Rabbi Leonard Matanky, Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, who participated in the program pilot. “The materials they have prepared and the professional development they have provided have had a profound impact upon teachers and students.”

“It presents the breadth and depth of the halakha (Jewish law) itself while providing the background and scaffolding necessary for the high school student,” commented Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, Principal of the SAR Academy in Riverdale, NY, another pilot participant. “It exposes students to original sources, including contemporary responsa, in a manner that makes challenging topics cognitively as well as spiritually and emotionally accessible.”

The HEC is the brainchild of Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, a leading Rabbinic personality in Israel. They have published over 40 books, including Rabbi Rimon’s best-selling Hagaddah of Pesach as well as the Laws of Shemita (the Sabbatical Year), and Laws of the Army. Multiple HEC texts are currently part of the required curriculum throughout the public school system in Israel, as mandated by the Ministry of Education. They are used in all 250 state religious high schools, in an additional 200 elementary schools, and have reached over 95,000 students.

In 5 years HEC has produced 43 books and provided enriched Jewish learning for over 400,000 people worldwide.

HEC currently produces material in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

2.2M Israeli Children Return to the Classrooms

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Slightly more than two million children returned to school this morning (Tues. Sept. 1) in the State of Israel.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett visited a local school in Ra’anana where photographers snapped pictures of the minister and other parents bringing their children to class and ceremoniously bidding them farewell.

Children arrive to their first day of First Grade at Paula Ben Gurion elementary school in Jerusalem.

First Grade at Paula Ben Gurion elementary school in Jerusalem.

Bennett recently presented a national plan to increase the number of students graduating from advanced mathematics classes, with an initial goal to double the numbers in four years.

The plan, at an estimated cost of NIS 75 million, will double the number of advanced math teachers within four years from 1,000 to 2,000. In addition, 15,000 hours of classes and study assistance will be added to the curriculum.

“All districts are ready, the schools are ready,” the minister wrote on his Facebook page Monday night, adding, “166,208 teachers are ready for 2,194,931 Israeli students.

First Grade students attending school at Paula Ben Gurion elementary school in Jerusalem.

First Grade students at Paula Ben Gurion elementary school in Jerusalem.

“The school year will open as planned, without any strikes or surpises. I wish the children of Israel – Good luck! We love you!”

Despite those warm wishes and the successful start to the new school year, however, Bennett is already under attack from Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, a former government minister.

Livni attended opening day at the Yachad School in Modi’in, where she slammed Bennett’s recent statement that one can achieve more social tolerance by strengthening Jewish identity, rather than by a “melting pot” approach.

“Bennett is forgetting the other side of the equation,” she said. “The ‘other’ does not need to be ‘me’ but the other has to respect the ‘me’… to respect his heritage, to respect his language, and following the proliferation of incidents of racism and hatred this summer, we must teach that the ‘other’ does not need to be a frightening, incited and besmirched enemy.

“Along with improving and strengthening studies in mathematics, it is essential that we first teach our children to be human beings,” Livni said.

Bennett covered precisely that concept in a statement last month, saying “If I study my identity as an Israeli, as a Jew, in depth, and I am at peace with this identity, I do not need to fear meeting a person who is different, respecting him, appreciating him, working alongside him.

“We need to respect identity while advancing tolerance.”

Bennett: Israeli-Arab Children to Start Learning Hebrew in Kindergarten

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced that in the coming year, Israeli-Arab students will begin learning to speak Hebrew in kindergarten, and will be required to learn Hebrew until the 12th grade.

Bennett says the move will help narrow the social gap between Arabs and Jews.

In May, MK Oren Hazan (Likud) proposed that Jewish students be required to learn Arabic, starting in first grade.

Jewish-Arab Jerusalem School Arsonists Sent to Prison

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Two brothers who torched a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem have been sentenced in Jerusalem District Court to 2 ½ years in prison.

“Lehava” extremist members Nachman Twito, 18 and his brother Shlomo, 22, were sentenced today (Wednesday, July 22) after their conviction on charges of vandalizing and setting a classroom on fire at the Jewish-Arab Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School.

Nachman was sentenced to two years in prison and a 10 month suspended sentence. He also was ordered to pay the school NIS 15,000 in damages. Shlomo was sentenced to two years in prison and received an 8 month suspended sentence. He was ordered to pay the school NIS 10,000 in damages.

The brothers, both residents of Beitar Illit, were arrested on December 7, 2014 and confessed to having torched the country’s largest integrated school on November 29. They also spray-painted graffiti in Hebrew on the walls inside the school: “Kahane was right,” “Enough with assimilation,” “Death to Arabs,” and “You can’t coexist with a cancer.”

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) said in a statement that the two brothers and a third accomplice still on trial – Yitzchak Gabai – attacked the school “because Jews and Arabs learn together at the school, and the goal was to put opposition to coexistence and assimilation in the public eye.”

California Resolution Urges Action on Campus Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

The California State Assembly on Monday passed a resolution urging action on the increasingly rampant anti-Semitism on University of California (UC) campuses.

The resolution urges each UC campus to “adopt a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Semitism and racism.”

The bipartisan measure was introduced by State Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County) follow-ing a series of events that targeted Jews and Israel on UC campuses, including an incident at UC Davis in which a swastika was painted onto an Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Jewish fraternity build-ing and the UCLA student government’s probing of a Jewish student’s religious identity during a hearing on her application for a judicial board position.

The resolution was previously passed unanimously in May by the California State Senate, 35-0, and by the California Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, 8-0, in June.

NY School District to Pay $4.5 M for Ignoring Years of Anti-Semitism

Monday, July 13th, 2015

A lawsuit brought in 2012 by five Jewish students against the Pine Bush Central School District in Pine Bush, New York, ended late last week when a judge approved a settlement which requires the school district to pay out nearly $4.5 million and to significantly revamp its policies regarding anti-Semitism.

The five students suffered years of physical and verbal assaults, intimidation and harassment, sometimes right in front of school district administrators and personnel. For years the complaints made by the students and their parents were largely ignored or even ridiculed.

The students alleged that the school district and various officials within it violated their rights to an education free from national origin and/or religious discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the New York Civil Rights Law.

The degradation suffered by the Jewish students (all of which happened within the past five years and it all happened in New York State, not the Middle East or Europe) included one student being pinned down while another tried to shove coins down her throat, being beaten with a hockey stick; swastikas scrawled on books, playground slides, walls, desks and even on the face of one of the Jewish students; holocaust “jokes”; threats to throw a Jewish student in an oven and Hitler salutes.

The Jewish Pine Bush students were called “disgusting Jew,” Jesus Hater, Christ Killer, “ashes” and “crispy” (Holocaust references) to name just some of the allegations raised in the Complaint.

These incidents took place during the past decade and they occurred in a schools district less than a two hour drive from New York City, not in the Middle East or in Europe.

Throughout their school years, the Jewish students suffered from trauma and other injuries. Several of the students were removed from the schools by their parents because the administration did little to nothing to ameliorate the situation. One student was home schooled because she became too traumatized to return to the Pine Bush schools.

When the lawsuit was first filed in 2012, one school official allegedly responded that the complainants’ “expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.”

Three things happened in the past year that likely factored into the decision by the defendants to settle the case, after having initially claimed they had done all that was required of them in response to the complaints and incidents.

First, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York signaled its interest in the litigation, announcing that it deemed the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find the defendants had not responded adequately to the discrimination.

Second, the U.S. District Court judge before whom the trial was set to take place had denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, meaning that should the students be able to produce the evidence they claimed they had, a case would be made out for “severe and discriminatory harassment” by a fact-finder.

And third, the trial was about to begin. The settlement was announced late last month, shortly before the trial was set to begin, and the Judge presiding over the case approved the settlement (as two of the plaintiffs are still minors) last week.

The $4.48 million settlement requires payment of $581,803.80 to each of the five students, as well as $1,493,333 in legal fees and $77,648 for costs.

The school district also agreed to reform various policies including harassment, discrimination and bullying policies and to require investigation and documentation of reported harassment; impose “meaningful, consistent, minimum consequences” for harassment; implement monitoring for discriminatory harassment; and the training of staff to understand and implement these policies; and various other related changes.

FBI Raids Michigan Jewish Institute Affiliated with Local Chabad

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

(JNi.media) Michigan Jewish Institute, a religious college with offices in Southfield and West Bloomfield, Michigan, is at the center of a federal investigation. MJI is closely affiliated with the Michigan State Chabad-Lubavitch organization through Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, MJI’s president, and Dov Stein, MJI’s director of academic administration.

WXYZ 7 Action News has confirmed that federal agents executed a search warrant at the Michigan Jewish Institute on Tuesday.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Education told 7 Action News the raid came in connection to their own investigation.

According to an eyewitness who spoke to the Forward, some 15 federal agents raided the MJI’s administrative offices in Southfield, a suburb of Detroit, Tuesday morning. The agents led the employees into a conference room, took their personal details and sent them home. Then agents brought boxes into the building on a hand truck.

The Michigan Jewish Institute issued the following statement on Wednesday:

Michigan Jewish Institute has provided educational opportunity and career pathways for thousands of students over many years, and we are proud of our accomplishments.

MJI is cooperating fully with the federal authorities. We are continuing operations as normal. We remain committed to our students who rely on the Institute, and we appreciate the dedication of our nearly 100 faculty and staff who are focused on our students.

We will not be providing any further comments until we have more information.

Established in 2004, with 300 students, MJI today boasts more than 2,000 students, the vast majority of whom participate in the school’s distance learning program, many of them overseas.

The school uses the Sakai collaborative learning environment, which offers document distribution, a gradebook, discussion, live chat, assignment uploads, and online testing.

As US citizens, MJI students may claim financial assistance under the Federal Pell Grant Program, which offers up to $5,730 per student annually.

The school website encourages applicants to check whether they are entitled to a government grant, a practice of just about every US college.

At this point, the FBI appears to have cast a wide net in the hope of finding incriminating evidence, and so speculations regarding the reason for the raid are just that. The Forward, which covered the school back in 2012, is suggesting the feds were concerned MJI was pulling a scam, signing up students who were not real graduation prospects.

Or, a more likely explanation, is that this could be a management and supervision issue.

One Chabad official who spoke to JNi.media on Wednesday commented on one part of the Forward story, that described the difficulties the school had experienced in receiving its accreditation; the official argued that this is not unusual for minor colleges, which face more academic scrutiny.

Stay tuned.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fbi-raids-michigan-jewish-institute-affiliated-with-local-chabad/2015/07/08/

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