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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘education’

Israeli Students Win Big In Chemistry Olympics

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Georgia (TPS) – The International Chemistry Olympiad was a rousing success for Israel, as the Jewish State’s high school delegation took home two medals and was placed amongst the world’s top 20.

“Israel’s students bring pride and honor in international contests time after time” praised Education Minister Naftali Bennett. “For a student to succeed and achieve prizes in something that is also a hobby is a formula for success.”The Israeli delegation won the Silver and Bronze medals, ranked 20th worldwide, and second in Western countries, one spot behind the United States.

Professor Zev Gross of Technion University accompanied the Israeli team, and offered lavish praise. “This year, we noticed a significant improvement, not just in the medals but the high scores that the Israeli received in the competition.

The Chemistry competition was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, with 66 countries participating. Romania won first place, with China winning the second and third spots.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

IDF Appoints Orthodox Officer to Command Education Corps

Monday, July 25th, 2016

The IDF General Staff on Monday decided to appoint Brigadier General Zvika Fairaizen as Chief Education Officer. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s announcement, Fairaizen, an Air Force man, used to command a squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles and his last post was as head of section 40 of the IDF Operations Division.

It should be noted that Brigadier General Fairaizen wears a knitted yarmulke, which constitutes an extremely meaningful change in the IDF’s recent attitude regarding Religious Zionism, following both the transfer of many educational functions from the military rabbinate to the education corps, and the controversy over the appointment of Rabbi Eyal Krim as the IDF chief rabbi.

Fairaizen is a resident of Neve Tzuf in Judea and Samaria, and graduated from a hesder yeshiva in Karnay Shomron. He was the first navigator in the IAF history to be appointed squadron commander.

Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Eizenkot preferred to appoint Fairaizen, whose background combined combat operations and religious Jewish education, to lead the education corps over the head of the corps’s education department, Colonel Yael Hess, who in the past was criticized for promoting religious pluralism in the IDF. Rabbi Yigal Levinshtein, head of the pre-military yeshiva in Eli, who has himself come under much criticism from the left, has been critical of Hess, who is married to the CEO of the Conservative movement in Israel, for being “a self-declared Reform Jew, who is the number one authority in the IDF today on educating soldiers on faith and ideas.”

Maj. Gen. Eizenkot has recently removed the Dept. of Jewish Studies from the IDF chief rabbinate to the education corps.

David Israel

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education Buys Permanent Facilities

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education Executive Director Judy Margles and Board Chair Elaine Coughlin last week announced the signing of a purchase agreement for the facilities at 724 NW Davis in Portland—formerly the home of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Margles wrote the following announcement:

As our closest circle of friends, I am excited to share something very special with you. OJMCHE is purchasing a new home, a 14,500 square foot unit in the De Soto building at 724 NW Davis Street (formerly the Museum of Contemporary Craft). I am also thrilled to tell you that we achieved the purchase of the building with the hard work of the OJMCHE Board and in particular outgoing chair, David Newman. This is the moment where we have finally fulfilled our vision and secured our mission for generations to come.

How did we get to this momentous possibility? July will already mark the two-year anniversary of the merger with Oregon Holocaust Resource Center. The merger enriched our institution in countless ways – we expanded our education staff to include a Holocaust educator, we are proud stewards of the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, we bring thousands of school children to both the Memorial and museum, and, of course, we continue to be the community repository for the Jewish experience in Oregon. Most importantly, we have deepened our focus on Jewish values and traditions, while working even more strenuously to bring our work to the wider community as a vehicle that can unite all people in their common humanity. In short, the merger has greatly expanded and fundamentally strengthened our core mission.

And now we have the opportunity to take the next step in our evolution. In a stroke of great luck, the fortuitous arrival on the market of this building became the perfect space for our museum. While this was an unexpected opportunity, we were ready to receive it because of the long-range feasibility planning that we undertook this last year. This space—purpose-built as a contemporary museum with ample room for exhibits, programs, school groups, collections and archives—perfectly matches the needs detailed in our feasibility report.

I am also thrilled to tell you that we achieved the purchase of the building with the tremendous support of three lead gifts from Renee and Irwin Holzman, Lois and Leonard Schnitzer Family and The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation/Arlene Schnitzer & Jordan Schnitzer. To date we have received a total of 33 gifts to make this phase of the campaign possible. For this generosity and sign of confidence, we are immensely grateful. Our community campaign, to raise funds for operating reserves and move-in costs, will commence shortly and I look forward to engaging each and every one of you in our endeavors.

Now that our dreams are becoming reality, we shall start to focus on the use of the space. I can share with you our basic conception: we will have state-of-the art storage for our archives and collection; a café; a gift shop; a multi-purpose auditorium for public programs and school groups; two floors of exhibit galleries with temporary exhibits on the first floor; and on the second space for core exhibits about the Oregon Jewish experience, discrimination in Oregon and the history of the Holocaust using stories of local survivors.

The coming months may prove to be the most significant in our history. An exciting consensus is emerging among museum professionals. We see successful museums of the future as places where people can hang out and engage in real and diverse social issues to make a genuine difference in their lives: these museums of the future will blur boundaries between the inside of the museum walls and what occurs outside, where programs will address a rich variety of living community concerns, while always recognizing, remembering and honoring the past. These museums will link historical experiences of the past with needs of the living present.

I want our museum to be such a museum: a broker and filter of perspectives and shared wisdom, a repository for traditional learning and historical scholarship, and also a stimulus for creative thinking on the way forward for our community. I want us to represent the full plurality of voices in our community and I want our programs to address a full range of community concerns.

We, this circle of friends, now share a magically rare opportunity: to help each other make our beloved Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education thrive, in all these many and varied ways, for many, many years to come.


Judy Margles

Executive Director


Coalition Kills Core Curriculum Prerequisite for Haredi Schools

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

After the previous Netanyahu cabinet set a prerequisite requirement for all Haredi educational institutions to teach core curriculum subjects such as English and Math, a new bill will change the rules to absolve the same institutions of those requirements, Israel’s Channel 10 News revealed Wednesday.

During the coalition negotiations for the current Netanyahu government, United Torah Judaism and Likud agreed that the core curriculum law would be revoked. Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) has objected to this move earlier this year.

According to Channel 10, the elimination of the obligation to teach core curriculum subjects will not result in reducing the budgets of Haredi yeshivas who pass on the extra material. This way these institutions will get more money but will not incur new expenses.

The current law sets three prerequisites for declaring Haredi educational institutions as eligible for state funding: teaching core curriculum subjects, testing to measure growth and effectiveness, and eliminating discrimination against students from non-Ashkenazi ethnic groups.

According to the emerging legislation, advanced by Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (UTJ), Haredi institutions will be absolved of having to teach any foreign language at all. They will also not be obliged to teach math if they don’t want to. These same institutions will also be absolved of participation in testing.

The only change the new legislation introduces is stronger controls on the prevention of discrimination in Haredi yeshivas.

David Israel

Bennett Plans to Bolster Jewish Identity, Connection to Israel, via New Education Program

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

During Monday’s meeting of the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett presented a program to strengthen Jewish identity across the Diaspora and foster closer ties between Jews overseas and the State of Israel.

The new initiative, which is being promoted jointly by the Education and Diaspora ministries, will fund Jewish studies programs, Hebrew ulpans, and classes in Israel studies for school aged children around the world.

During the meeting, Bennett said the plan was to begin with a pilot program, focusing on dozens of elementary- and high-schools in Latin America and Europe, as well as the appointment of a planning committee to establish criteria for school programs to train teachers, and assist administrators in Jewish schools.

The committee will also operate a support network to connect educators in the Diaspora with their counterparts in Israel.

Diaspora Committee Chairman Avraham Neguise (Likud) called to strengthen Jewish identity among Jewish teenagers overseas, because, he said, they are feeling less and less connected to Judaism and the State of Israel.

Bennett responded that “Israel is responsible to protect and strengthen Jewish identity and affinity for Israel among each and every Jew everywhere in the world.”

“Jewish schools [serve] as important community centers, where the next generation is educated, and as a meeting place where Jewish identity is formed in wider circles. The State of Israel must aid educators to continue and expand educational programs bringing together the many parts of the Jewish people,” Bennett reiterated.

Bennett further said that his office was monitoring anti-Semitic activity and is accompanying Jewish communities abroad that are dealing with the phenomenon. His office is also following efforts in foreign countries to curb anti-Semitism through legislation.

Diaspora Affairs Ministry Director-General Dvir Kahane presented the ministry’s activities to strengthen Jewish identity across the Diaspora. The ministry spends tens of millions of dollars on such activities, which are also aimed at sharply increasing the number of Jewish university students who come to study in Israel, as well as assisting Jewish schools, mainly in Europe and South America.

One feature of the new campaign is to have Jews from abroad video themselves as they talk about their Jewish lives and their connection to Israel. Sample videos have already been posted on the Diaspora Affairs Ministry site.

According to Yogev Karasenty, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s Director for Combating Anti-Semitism, most anti-Semitism is fueled by Muslims who were born in Europe. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” – the anti-Semitic, fabricated text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination, is very popular in Egypt, he told the committee.


Rethinking Education

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Education—everyone is in favor of providing a good Jewish education to their children and all parents attempt to send their kids to a school that they believe will fill that need. In some communities, there are a plethora of choices as to which school a child may be sent. In some communities, there is a paucity of schools and there are no choices. In some situations, there ARE indeed choices, but, due to various communal pressures, a child is sent to a school that may not be the ideal for that student.

t goes without saying that when choosing a school for your child (of ANY age), the choice should be based on what is best for the child’s education and not how it will “play” in the community. If you are deciding which school your son or daughter will attend based on what OTHERS think you “should” be doing, then you have already laid the groundwork for (potential) disaster. I cannot even count the amount of times I have taught children (both in a classroom and privately) whose parents sent them to this school or that only because they “had to.” The student was miserable, and it showed on many levels. In cases where this decision was challenged and addressed and then a change made, it served the child well in so many arenas.

Having said all of the above, I want to address a different issue that permeates almost every single school educating our children from K-12.

That issue is: PRIORITIES.

There are MANY worthwhile things that children learn in school, both in Limudei Kodesh and in Limudei Chol. For the purposes of this post, I wish to focus only on Limudei Kodesh.

Let me start with two main points: Teaching children of ALL ages TaNaCh is of critical importance and the educating of children in this area is sorely lacking. Students leave school with a very basic and, often, poor, level of knowledge of TaNaCh. (Clarification: The approach in the USA and the approach in Israel are similar but, in some cases, very different. For example, most of TaNaCh learning in High School is geared towards passing a Bagrut. My comments here are broad-based and not meant to address any one school, any one system or any one country)

Take the average child growing up in an average Jewish school. If we are speaking of a boy, then the chances are very high that by 5th grade or (at the latest) 6th grade, he will begin to learn Gemara. In broad terms, this child will be taught the language of Aramaic (the language of the Gemara) by way of a “new word list” to familiarize the student with the lexicon of Gemara. In RARE cases, students will be given some background as to what Gemara/Talmud is and, in even rarer cases, they will be taught WHY Gemara is part of the curriculum and being learned.

And then, the “fun” begins. Some students take to Gemara like a fish to water while (as is true for other subjects) struggle to get beyond the basics. A tense environment begins to grow…on the one hand: the student who has come to “despise” learning Gemara vs. the knowledge that (if he remains in a Jewish school environment) he has MANY years ahead of him in learning institutions, where Gemara is the NUMBER ONE priority. It becomes a vicious cycle of tension, frustration and, in some cases, turns off the student to not only Gemara but to Torah itself.

While there are many who do indeed see this problem and issue, there is a more basic one that is “out there” that needs addressing. Before addressing it, I want to make one thing clear: Gemara, when learned correctly, can indeed give a student (of EVERY age and both for males and females) a VERY well-rounded Jewish education! The Psukim throughout TaNach that are quoted; the evolution of Halacha; the history; science; medicine, etc., all can contribute to a very broad base of Torah knowledge. However, having said that, it is NOT that common for Gemara to be taught/learned the “right” way. The “right” way includes using the words of the Gemara as a SPRINGBOARD to Torah and not as an end unto itself! This means that when Psukim are quoted, the Perek and Pasuk are learned with the commentaries. When other references to other Gemara is made, that Gemara is learned, as well. It means making the Gemara relevant in one’s life!

BUT….since more often than not, this is NOT done, there is one major “casualty”…the Torah itself!

There are countless individuals who learn Gemara around the globe, who (sadly) have NEVER read through all of TaNach. The knowledge of Neviim and Ketuvim by MANY is as minimal as their knowledge of Quantum Mechanics at a doctoral level.

We educate students and stress Gemara so much that the Torah itself takes a back seat (G-d forbid!) to the Talmud. Many students see Navi or Parashat Shavua as merely another subject to get through in school, without it resonating within them, in the least. Many educators broadcast a message that while TaNaCh is important, TALMUD is where their focus needs to be.

It is time to change that approach!

It is time to begin literally at the beginning, at Breisheet, and teach our kids TANACH from the beginning to the end and it needs to be made relevant! We need to place LESS emphasis on Gemara in our school curricula (UNLESS it will be taught by fully synthesizing TaNaCh into the learning!) and more on the Word of Hashem: The Torah itself. How sad that many adults have little knowledge of much of Neviim and Ketuvim and, at the same time, distaste for Gemara: It is a loss on TWO fronts!

Another point: Just because a child is a male, does not mean he will be fully suited to learn Gemara. In addition, just because a child is born a female does not mean she is NOT suited to learn Gemara. Gemara should be available to all. It should indeed BE in the curriculum of all Jewish schools after a certain point of education (as long as it is in keeping with the Hashkafa of that institution). There is no question to the value or impact Gemara can have on one’s Jewish life.

BUT…this cannot come at the expense of Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim!

Rav Zev Shandalov

FM Kahlon Tussles With Netanyahu Over Casinos in Eilat

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Kulanu party chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon apparently is teaming up with Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a minor political brawl against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The argument is over funding, as usual – this time, a plan to open a casino in Eilat.

In the past Kahlon has sidestepped the issue altogether by saying, “Everyone knows there will not be a casino here.”

The Finance Ministry has taken steps to block gambling activities that target Israelis and others who have low incomes and difficulty walking away from their hopes for easy money.

“Last week we decided to put an end to slot machines and horse races – gambling activities that ruin families. These machines are placed in poor neighborhoods to sell them illusions and hopes while taking money out of their pockets,” Kahlon said, according to the Globes business news site.

“Sadly, this has been going on since 2003 – it has been talked about for years and we decided to take action; soon we’ll remove them, and Mifal HaPayis can scrap them as far as I’m concerned.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to head a commission to look into the possibility of developing a gambling spot in the southern resort city.

But Kahlon told journalists at the start of the Kulanu faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday: “The State of Israel does not need casinos. It needs to provide education, values, and jobs – not a casino.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fm-kahlon-tussles-with-netanyahu-over-casinos-in-eilat/2016/06/14/

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