Education Ministry seeks to empower Mizrahi culture in education system

February 7, 2016 21:01
1 minute read.
Erez Biton

‘I AM used to encountering myself in the most direct manner, and I eke out poetic crystallization from this,’ says veteran Israeli poet Erez Biton. (photo credit: RACHEL CALAHORRA BITTON)

The Education Ministry, as part of its ongoing efforts to implement reform, will now seek to empower Eastern Jewish cultural studies within its general curriculum.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett appointed a special committee to be headed by Erez Biton, the first poet of Mizrahi descent to win the Israel Prize in Literature.

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Biton, who has been blind since childhood, was born in Algeria. His well-known works include 1976’s Mincha Marokait (Moroccan Gift); 1979’s Sefer Hanana (Book of Mint); 1989’s Tzipor Ben Yabashot (Bird between Continents); and 2009’s Timbisert, A Moroccan Bird.

The committee will be tasked with empowering the identity of the Mizrahi Jewish community – including immigrants from Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia and Libya – within the education system.

The education minister said the intent is to integrate and expand the rich culture of the Mizrahi Jewish communities within the education system at all age levels and across a variety of disciplines, such as literature, history and Israel studies.

“This needed to be done 70 years ago, and here we are doing it today,” Bennett said.

The committee will aim to incorporate the Mizrahi community in developing the new curriculum. Bennett called on “any organization or person with expert knowledge in this field” to contact the committee and be part of a “historic” opportunity which was “correcting years of injustice.”

“The wealth of Eastern culture is a gift that the education system has failed to properly enjoy in all its splendor to date; and I will add that we probably still do not know what we do not know about this wonderful culture,” Bennett said.

“The State of Israel, which is an ingathering of exiles from all around the world, must live with this cultural wealth, and not reduce it,” he said.

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