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.
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.
“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.”