Rabbi Gilad Kariv 58 headshot.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On the backdrop of growing criticism from liberal circles against the Education
Ministry over what they perceive as a rise in nationalistic values, the Reform
Movement in Israel is noting with satisfaction the growth in the ministry’s
support for their programs in the public-school system.
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school year will be the second year in which the movement will receive funding
of approximately NIS 200,000, as part of the Ministry’s “centers for enhancing
Jewish education,” explained the head of Israel’s Reform Movement, Rabbi Gilad
In the past, the providers of these educational services were from
the national religious sector. But after a long dialogue and court petition, the
Education Ministry changed its criteria to include pluralistic bodies as
potential service providers, Kariv said.
On Monday, the Education
Ministry approved a new program for teaching citizenship, enhancing Jewish
values and the connection between Judaism and democracy.
Last week it was
revealed that, as of the upcoming school year, new ministry regulations
stipulate that kindergarten children will begin their Sunday mornings with
raising the flag and singing the national anthem.
The decision is part of
the ministry’s goal to strengthen the Zionist and Jewish values of Jewish
students in Israel.
Other pertinent initiatives include visits to the
Cave of the Patriarchs, and students “adopting” the graves of fallen soldiers.
Meanwhile, critics of these moves have slammed them as part of a worrying move
Another recent decision of Education Minister Gideon
Sa’ar is to add the subject of Jewish culture to the junior high
Nine different bodies, including the Reform Movement, had their
programs approved, and the schools will be able to choose from among
Kariv called the acceptance of the programs “a
“After many years of legal action against the Education
Ministry to change the regulations so that the criteria can include pluralistic
movements, we are finally beginning to work together with the ministry. More and
more elements in the ministry are internalizing the duty and educational
interest of having pluralistic Judaism in the schools, to enable a broader
variety of players – including Reform – to act,” said Kariv.
definitely begin to mark a trend of pluralistic movements, including the Reform
Movement, becoming more integrated in the educational system.”
the ministerial emphasis on Jewish and Zionist values were all the more reason
for his movement, and other similar ones, to enhance their presence in the
“This is an important means to ensure that education to Jewish
and Zionist identity will be open, and not dogmatic. We nurture Jewish
identity, while leaving enough space for questions and varied outlooks,” he
“The fact that today a discussion over values is taking place makes
our presence all the more important. I’m happy to say that we are now seeing the
fruits of our labor – and as the years will go by, we will seek to enhance this
According to Kariv, the trend is both a result of their court
actions, as well as the constellation in the ministry, headed by a Likud member
whose deputy is haredi.
“There has definitely been a seeping of the
values emanating from the High Court of Justice regarding Jewish pluralism in
the educational system in the same years the Education Ministry is trying to
strengthen and enhance Jewish education in the elementary schools. Both elements
come together,” said Kariv. “There are currently encouraging signs of openness
in the Education Ministry toward our activities.”