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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘education’

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.

JNi.Media

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

Heated Debate at Education Committee Emergency Session on Pro-BDS Israeli Academics

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

A stormy emergency session was held Wednesday at the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, following a report released by the rightwing Im Tirtzu movement that revealed the involvement of 20 Israeli academics in the proposed resolution of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to join the boycott against Israel. The debate revolved around academic politicization and the support given by university faculty members to boycotts against Israel.

The emergency session was called by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu), who said that “Israel cannot support and budget lecturers who call for a boycott against Israel. The boycott movement is an anti-Semitic movement, and they (the lecturers) cannot hide behind freedom of expression.”

Forer announced his plan to introduce legislation that would allow the State to prevent an institution of higher learning from receiving funds that amount to the salary of a lecturer who calls for a boycott against Israel.

Professor Zvi Ziegler, who heads an inter-university forum to combat the academic boycott, said that “the number of lecturers who support an academic boycott against Israel is so small and marginal – damaging but marginal – that it would not be worth it to deal with them. The damage they cause is a lot less severe than the damage that would be caused to Israel’s reputation as an enlightened and advanced country if we fight them.”

Matan Peleg, director of Im Tirtzu, told the committee that “this phenomenon must be stopped for the sake of the future of Israeli academia.”

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) said: “Could it be that the Arab Members of Knesset are doing the same thing as professors in the State of Israel – receive money and call to boycott the country? I ask myself, who learned from whom?”

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) said that while he supports a two-state solution, “the academic boycott hurts the chances of a shared existence.”

MK Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) urged the Council for Higher Education of Israel “to discuss this unacceptable phenomenon, so that there will be respectful rather than inciting academic freedom.”

MK Yoseph Yonah (Zionist Camp), himself a university professor, stressed that while he is against boycotts and the BDS movement, “a democracy’s strength lies in its ability to accept criticism.” He further argued that any initiative aimed at restricting academic freedom would cause much more damage.

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp) said, “This debate is not between Jews and Arabs, or for or against BDS, because most of us are against BDS. We must check to see who is breaking the law and who isn’t.”

MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Camp) said Israel should fight the BDS movement “while preserving the values of democracy.” He noted that among the thousands of university faculty members in Israel, there are between three and ten lecturers who support the boycott, “and I am revolted by their actions and denounce them.”

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) said, “This is an example of academic freedom under attack. Those who create politicization in the academia are the members of Im Tirtzu, with their amateurish report. We are sick and tired of this system of muzzling and restricting every democratic value in the country. Leave us alone. As for BDS, it is a non-violent protest that succeeded in South Africa, and it is legitimate to operate in this manner here as well.”

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu), who serves as deputy chairperson of the Education Committee, chaired the meeting in place of Committee Chairman Yakov Margi (Shas), who did not attend in protest of the comments allegedly made by Channel 10 News Chairman Rami Sadan against his party and its leader, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

JNi.Media

NY Gov Signs Anti-Boycott Law then Joins 52nd Israel Parade in Pouring Rain [video]

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

It was dry and cozy at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, where NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced a new executive order that bans companies supporting a boycott of Israeli products from doing business with NY State agencies. Outside, on Fifth Avenue, the stubborn marching groups of the 52nd annual Celebrate Israel parade were pushing ever forward under the persistent rain.

Gov. Cuomo spoke to an audience that included many Jewish leaders and lawmakers, describing the BDS movement as an “economic attack” on Israel. “We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, according to the NY Times. “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”

Mr. Cuomo signed the executive order, and then joined the wet masses in the parade.

The BDS usual suspects, such as the movement’s Qatari founder Omar Barghouti, called Cuomo’s move part of Israel’s “legal warfare against BDS,” and complained that Israel was trying to “delegitimize the boycott.” Mostly because the boycott represents an effort to delete, not just delegitimize Israel.

The governor later tweeted: “What a great honor it was to march in the @CelebrateIsrael parade today.”

It may have rained on Sunday in Manhattan literally, but it didn’t rain on Israel’s parade figuratively, as the Broadway Cast of Fiddler on the Roof, the band SOULFARM, – the Paprim Ensemble Dancers of Israel Dance Institute, and the Maccabeats — to name but a few — did their thing down the avenue.

Marching Bands included NYC Police, Cadets, Fusion Core, Saint Brigades Drum & Bugle Corps, Connecticut Hurricanes, Bushwhackers Drum & Bugle Corps, Long Island Sunrisers Drum & Bugle Corps, Upper Schuylkill Marching Band, Raiders Drum & Bugle Corps, Excelsior Drum & Bugle Corps, and Skyliners.

The parade featured floats and vehicles from the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, American Friends of Magen David Adom, American Technion Society, American Zionist Movement, Ariel University, Avi Chai Foundation, Bank Leumi, Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada, Carmel, EL AL & Israel Ministry of Tourism, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, Dr. Felix Glaubach & Family, Hazon, Hebron Fund, Hillel Yeshiva, IDB Bank, IDT Corporation, Israel Bonds, State of Israel, Jfiix, Jewish Agency, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish National Fund, Kars 4 Kids, Kids of Courage, Nefesh B’ Nefesh, One Israel Fund, Russian American Jewish Experience, Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. & Iranian American Jewish Federation, Stand With Us, and UJA-Federation of NY.

Finally, this is the complete list of the marching groups:

92nd St Y/Jdate
AJC-American Jewish Committee
American Russian Jewish Community Cluster /COJECO
American Veterans of Israel Legacy
AIFL-American Israel Friendship League
ARZA
ASHAR
AZM
Barkai Yeshivah
Ben Porat Yosef
Berman Hebrew Academy – Rockville, MD
Bi-Cultural Day School
B’nai Jeshurun
Bnei Akiva of US and Canada
Boy/Girl Scouts of America
Brandeis School
Camp HASC
Carmel Academy
Center for Jewish Life
Chai Riders
Congregation Or Zarua
Cyprus Federation of America
Eagles Wings Ministries
East Midwood Hebrew Day School
Ezra Academy
Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim Tzabar
Friends of the IDF
Friends of Yashar LaChayal /East Brunswick Tri-Synagogue Alliance
Frisch School
Golda Och Academy
H.E.S. Hebrew Educational Society
HAFTR Lower/Middle/High School
HALB Middle School
HALB DRS
HALB SKA
HANC
Hannah Senesh Community Day School
Hazon
Heschel School
Hillel International
Hillel Yeshiva/HS
JAFI – Jewish Agency International Development
JCRC – Long Island
Jewish Educational Center
Jewish Educational Center – Bruriah
Jewish Educational Center – Mesivta,
Jewish Federation Northeastern, PA
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, NJ
Jewish Federation of North NJ
Jewish Federation Rockland County
Jewish Foundation School
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
Joseph Kushner Academy/Rae Kushner HS
Jscreen
Kinneret Day School
LGBT Cluster
Lone Soldier Center
Lower Merion Cluster
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva HS for Girls
Magen David Yeshiva Celia Esses High School
Magen David Yeshivah  (2015 Winner)
Maimonides Academy – Los Angeles
Manhattan Day School
Manhattan Jewish Experience
Marks Jewish Community House
Marlboro Jewish Center
Monmouth County – Federation from the Heart of NJ
Moriah School
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Northeast Queens JCC
Northshore Hebrew Academy Middle/High Schools
OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services / Camp Kaylie
OU/Yachad/ NCSY
Progressive Cluster
Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva  (2015 Winner)
RAJE
Ramaz School Middle/High Schools
Rambam Mesivta – Midreshet Shalhevet
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
SAR Academy/High School
SHAI
Shorefront YM-YWHA
Shulamith School for Girls – Cedarhurst
Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn
Skaters and Bladers in Memory of JJ Greenberg
Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Solomon Schechter School of Long Island
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
Solomon Schechter School of Queens
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Team Lifeline (Chai Lifeline)
Temple Beth Abraham
Temple Israel of Great Neck
Temple Sholom of West Essex
Torah Academy of Bergen County -TABC
UJ Federation of Greater Toronto
United Congregations for Israel
United Mashadi Jewish Committee of America – UMJCA
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/USY
Volunteers for Israel
Westchester Day School  (2015 Winner)
Westchester Hebrew High School
Westchester Jewish Council
Yavneh Academy  (2015 Winner)
YB Hillel of Passaic
Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore/Congregation Brothers of Israel
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
Yeshiva Har Torah
Yeshiva High School 0f Boca Raton
Yeshiva of Central Queens  (2015 Winner)
Yeshiva University
Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle/High School  (2015 Winner)
Yeshivat BitaHon
Yeshivat Noam
Young Judaea/Hadassah
ZOA – Zionist Organziation of America

(Source: Celebrate Israel Parade)

David Israel

Innovation in Jewish Education – “Investing in the Jewish Future”

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

For years, Jewish education has been searching for a means to inspire, to innovate, and redefine the standard curriculum to engage the next generation of Jews.

Schools across the Jewish spectrum have received constant pressure to re-package and teach classic content in a style that speaks to the students. The fast-pace of today’s technology is forcing educators and the institutions they represent to connect, and to remain relevant.

There are sparks of a burgeoning renaissance in the field of Jewish education. Among the leaders in the groundbreaking initiative are Yeshiva University, who has begun to offer an Experiential Education Certificate to offer Jewish leaders a new set of tools with which to transform teaching material. The premise of the certificate is to encourage the educator to tap into creative, less formal teaching styles that can present the materials in a new light.

The Mayberg Family Foundation is hosting this week (June 1-2) its annual Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) retreat. In contrast to the slow process of traditional funding, the Mayberg innovation challenge more closely resembles a Jewish education version of a “pitch night.” At the retreat, finalists have 12 minutes to pitch their projects to a panel of judges, (think “Shark Tank”), who have then discuss and question them. All participants and audience members are invited to access all elements of the grant applications in Mayberg’s Guidebook app, opening the process to the public. Winners will receive notice and a $50,000 grant later this month. Manette Mayberg, trustee of the foundation, views their refreshing funding style as “Investing in the Jewish future.”

This year’s Lead Facilitator at the retreat is Aryeh Ben David, an innovator in education, founder of Ayeka and their “Soulful Education” method. The Soulful Education methodology works with existing schools’ educators and curriculum, but with a new approach to both that changes the emphasis of Judaic Studies from amassing knowledge to processing information for personal transformation and growth.

The argument made is that the innovation needed in Jewish Education is to replace the traditional information accumulation model with one that uses Jewish wisdom as a means to personalization and internalization for teacher and students alike.

The organization’s has recently received grants for the coming school year from The Avichai Foundation, Lippman-Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, and The Kohelet Foundation for a “start up” program that will provide training, mentoring and ongoing work with 18 faculty members from three Day Schools for an extensive 10-month training period.

“Ayeka isn’t changing the what or the who so much, but rather the how. Jewish educators are being presented with an opportunity to transform the way we reach Jewish learners, not just through conveying information, but by having the students personalize their learning and bring it into their lives.” Ayeka sees its paradigm shifting, unapologetically open approach as a necessary step for improving Jewish education.

While Mayberg places the responsibility on the schools to work and change from within, some more grassroot, independent projects are approaching Jewish education from the perspective of an outsider or consultant.

Shinui is a network of six organizations focused on innovation in the “part time” education sector, such as Sunday school, JCCs, adult education classes and more. While they are not dealing with full time day school, they are challenging boundaries in the non-orthodox world. Collaboration based, they are using platforms of engagement to effect 6 different geographical areas, from Houston to San Francisco.

Kevah, a self-described DIY project, invests in a ground-up educational group. To start a new chapter, a local host convenes a group of learners interested in a certain topic, and then Kevah provides them with an educator, administrative platform, and a curriculum which matches their style. It is up to the group to continue their learning. Their method banks on group dynamics and commitment to make learning a source of enrichment rather than a chore.

When seeking answers to the need for innovation in traditional learning, pioneers are finding communities and learners most responsive when they educate and inspire the personal and spiritual connections each individual forms with Judaism. Recognizing the imperative of continuing Jewish life, they are pushing into the world of the informal and spiritual realms, emphasizing fresh approaches in an effort to disrupt the status quo and keep the Jewish future bright.

Ayeka training retreat in Glencove, NY (

Ayeka training retreat in Glencove, NY (

Rachel Moore

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/innovation-in-jewish-education-investing-in-the-jewish-future/2016/06/01/

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