Fourteen years after they launched their campaign, parents from Ra’anana are
celebrating the opening this week of a new public school in the city, which they
say will fill a glaring need in their children’s education.
adheres to the pluralistic yet religiously traditional makeup that is the DNA of
the TALI school system.
Nominally affiliated with the Conservative
stream’s Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, TALI schools are largely modeled
on American Conservative Jewish day schools.
According to the system’s
website, TALI “aspires to shape a personality which embraces both Jewish
tradition and general culture, and to endow pupils with the desire and tools to
confront and deal with contemporary existential issues facing the Jewish
In April 2008, the Education Ministry approved the opening of a
TALI school in Ra’anana after two years of petitioning by parents. On September
20, 2010, the cornerstone for the Frankel School’s building was laid, and on
Sunday it opened its doors to 257 students from the first to sixth
The first TALI school was founded in Jerusalem over 30 years ago,
following a donation from Samuel Frankel.
His son, real estate developer
Stanley Frankel, put up NIS 16 million of the NIS 20 million cost of the
New Jersey native David Schwartz said the idea to push for a TALI
school in Ra’anana emerged one night in 1997 when he and his wife got together
with several other couples and concluded that they needed an alternative
educational framework for their children. Schwartz said their main need was a
school that would be accepting of students from all levels of observance, but
would still provide a rich education in Jewish customs, tradition and
“We are Masorti [Conservative]. We didn’t want our kids
going to a secular school where not all the kids are interested in a Jewish
upbringing, and we didn’t want them to go to a national-religious school where
they wouldn’t be accepted because they don’t live a religious
Like others, Schwartz said his background in the American
Jewish community influenced his desire to push for a TALI school. He said he and
the other parents who supported the school had been inspired by the US
Conservative Movement’s Solomon Schechter day schools and were essentially
looking to build their own version in Ra’anana.
Schwartz, who made aliya
with his wife, Hannah, in 1992, has four children between the ages of 10 and 16
who have studied in the TALI system, which up until this week met at Ra’anana’s
He said TALI schools send the message that “there is no
coercion. Everyone has the right to practice Judaism as they want and to learn
about everyone else’s tradition, and that there is a broader range of practice
Principal Yigal Ariha said the school had been founded for
families “who didn’t see themselves as religious but wanted to give their kids a
Jewish education.” He said the students received weekly Jewish studies classes
and celebrated the Jewish holidays throughout the year.
Ariha spent three
years working at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore, Maryland,
before returning to work as principal of the Frankel School. He said the Israeli
school “has an open atmosphere that accepts each family and where they come
from,” and that the student body includes pupils who keep kosher and those that
do not, from families that are Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and formerly
He said that even though the initiative had been launched by
parents who immigrated from the US, most of the school’s students were
native-born Israelis. He believes the school is a model for how the education
system in Israel should be, adding that “in particular during these days, when
extremism is raising its head, it’s important that the nice, pluralistic Judaism
raises its head.”
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