Photo Credit: Natan Weil
Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Education Ministry Dir.-Gen. Shmuel Abuav

Unity in Israeli society, and among Jewish people across the world, is the central theme Israel’s new school year, according to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also said in a statement Sunday that Israel’s state education system is “home” to all Israeli students, be they Jews, Arabs, Druze, Circassians, religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox.

“They are all my children,” Bennett said. “Every child in the State of Israel deserves an excellent education and fair opportunity. We must remember that arguments within the family are fine and healthy, as long as we always remain a family.”

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The theme of this school year, he added, is to be held under the banner of ‘unity’. As part of that theme, in their studies the schools will deal with the issue from two main perspectives: the first, unity among all elements of Israeli society and the second, Jewish Peoplehood and the connection with Diaspora Jewry. “The ministry and the schools are working on formulating the specific content, dialogues, and joint meetings between different groups in Israel society,” he said.

More than 2.3 million students streamed into the classrooms Sunday morning in Israel, including 167,000 first grade students, and 131,000 students beginning 12th grade. Alongside them were 194,000 teaching staff.

Bennett congratulated all of them on what he said was the smoothest opening of the school year for some time.

In addition to reforms in mathematics and English, Bennett said the ministry expects to “narrow gaps, deepen understanding over memorization, and expand principals’ freedom to nurture values.”

Other reforms taking place in the education system this year include: greater autonomy for principals, extra staff members in around 6,000 kindergartens, smaller class sizes, and expansion in the studies of mathematics, English, and Hebrew language.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.