A Jewish worshipper prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Education Ministry intends to launch a curriculum for the upcoming school year in secular public schools on Jewish-Israeli culture, the ministry announced on Wednesday.
The new program seeks to introduce pupils to the world of multi-faceted Judaism, adapting its relevance to fit the context of modern Israeli society.
“The Jewish story that has been passed down from generation to generation should continue to be told. We should not cut the link.
This is what was done,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
“To know who we are, to know our forefathers, Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi’s poetry, and also the life of Haim Nahman Bialik and the writings of Ahad Ha’am, to understand the issues of the [Passover] Seder, and what the fast of the 17th of Tamuz is. All are important no less than mathematics.
This we will do,” he said.
Bennett also attempted to preempt criticism and ease concerns, adding: “I demanded one principle and on this I will insist – I will not allow religious coercion. There will be no coercion, because Judaism is for everyone.”
The professional committee on Israeli culture, headed by Prof. Ron Margolin, has spent the last two years formulating the program.
The committee presented its new curriculum to the director-general of the ministry, Michal Cohen, at a roundtable meeting alongside organizations working in the field of Jewish education and representatives of principals in the secular school system.
According to the ministry, the curriculum will provide knowledge and offer pupils a diverse experience in order to develop their personal identity as Jews, as Israelis, and as human beings.
In addition, it aims to strengthen their ability to maintain a respectful dialogue on the different identities that exist in Israeli society today.
The Education Ministry noted further that the curriculum had been previously offered from fourth to eighth grades, though with the presentation of the new curriculum it will now expand to include grades three to nine. The curriculum for first and second grades will be incorporated into schools at the principals’ request.