Test score praise

Sir, – Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar and his staff deserve praise for providing the money and leadership that resulted in dramatic rises in test scores (“Israeli children post impressive improvements in math, science, reading,” December 12).

Since 2009 Sa’ar has fought to increase the budget for these subjects from NIS 38 million to NIS 450m. Now the results are coming in. In other advanced countries education budgets are sinking.

More is never achieved with less.

Teachers in the classrooms, principals, parents and students deserve special recognition for these achievements. Their hard work put the money to good use.

Hopefully, the next government will do three things to build on the momentum:

1. Keep Sa’ar in his current position. Nothing ensures successful turnarounds over the longterm like continuity of the top people.

2. Continue to expand the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) budget and curricula to children in all grades in public and private schools.

3. Consider appointing a special community advisory board that will advocate for even greater commitments from the government and private sector, and advise these folks on how best they might invest their resources.

Higher education programs generously supplement the ministry’s initiatives, while private companies and NGOs donate money and the expertise of their employees for special school programs.

HAROLD GOLDMEIER
Beit Shemesh

The writer has a doctorate in education and is an adviser to schools and NGOs.

Nothing new

Sir, – Regarding “American Jews: Beware ‘high-fiving the PLO’” (Center Field, December 12), B’nai Jeshrun’s rabbis are not new at the game of attempting to place Israel in a negative light.

One Saturday morning while visiting New York City I went to pray at the synagogue. The speaker after the Torah reading was a leading Arab member of Knesset.

The MK explained how the peace treaty with Egypt had been the result of Arab-Israelis. In a 25- minute harangue he never mentioned the fact that Menachem Begin was a leading player in the event.

I stopped the services by demanding the privilege of asking a question. The rabbi immediately asked if I was a member of the congregation. I asked whether the MK had deliberately forgotten to mention Menachem Begin.

The rabbi said the issue would be discussed at the kiddush. It never was, and many members came up to me to say thank you for stopping the kind of defamation these rabbis practice.

MURRAY S. GREENFIELD
Tel Aviv

Thoughtful words

Sir, – I want to compliment Issamar Ginzberg for “Looking back” (Tips for Entrepreneurs, December 10).

His sound advice is a life lesson for everyone, and not just about financial decisions. His thoughtful words always help me find a moral compass in this hectic world.

KAREN FOLK
Petah Tikva

Dark holiday

Sir, – Walking around Jerusalem on a Hanukka evening it is delightful seeing the myriad visitors rejoicing in this beautiful festival. We watch them admiring the hanukkiot (Hanukka menorahs) on top of our famous buildings, in the windows of homes and in crannies outside many others. It is a wonderful, light-filled festival.

To our consternation, disappointment and annoyance, this year there is no hanukkia outside the president’s official residence.

In previous years there were, and they were usually ornate and majestic.

Last year there was a tiny one, just like the ones adorning the lamp posts of the city’s major thoroughfares.

This year, absolutely nothing.

What a disgrace!

RUTH COHN
Jerusalem

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