Thursday, March 1, 2007

Is Israel Important?

Recently Zach Luck lamented the state of Israel education in the American Jewish educational system claiming that it has inadequately prepared students to deal with the harsh realities of Israel. While it’s true that Jewish American students know little about Israel, it’s inaccurate and unfair to blame only the educational system. A school’s curriculum reflects what the community thinks is important. Apparently teaching about Israel is not really that important. Think about it: how many day/supplementary schools have proper Israel Studies curriculum or formally integrate its study into subjects where it would fit naturally (i.e. Hebrew Language & Lit., Tanakh, etc.)? We can’t expect students to cultivate non-clich├ęd opinions about Israel without teachers teaching it properly, nor expect teachers to provide anything beyond a look through rose-colored glasses if they’re not given the class time or resources, and we can’t expect schools to address this unless the community starts asking for it.

1 comment:

  1. Dov - I agree on all counts.

    Anonymous - I think that Israel Studies should be taught in schools, but it shouldn't be limited to the "positive stuff." Students are sophisticated enough be exposed to complex issues. If they are taught to think critically about Israel, they
    will be better consumers of media reports, able to distinguish exaggerations from truths, but more importantly, they will also be able to act in her best
    interests. Blanket praise of Israel can ultimately hurt Israel and the Jewish people. Students who are eventually exposed to the entire Israeli reality, which inevitably contains some blemishes, will look back on the
    all-too-rosy picture they received in school with contempt. Some of the students in the article were so disillusioned that they referred to their Jewish education as "lies". Wouldn't it be a shame if students were to write
    off their entire Jewish education for this reason?