Education system to mark Aliyah Day by telling the ‘complete story’

“The State of Israel always knew to absorb aliyah, but didn't always know to absorb olim.”

November 7, 2016 17:18
1 minute read.

A new immigrant at Ben-Gurion airport kisses the tarmac as he makes aliya. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The education system will commemorate Aliya Day on Tuesday with a weeklong emphasis on the “complete story” of aliya and the gratitude of Israeli society for past and present olim.

“The State of Israel always knew to absorb aliya, but it didn’t always know to absorb olim,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday.

The goal of the week is to teach students about the different waves of immigration to Israel, with particular emphasis being placed on the unique characteristics of olim from various countries, including Arab and North African countries that have generally been left out of the classic aliya narrative.

“We will tell the wonderful story of olim from Arab and Eastern countries and from Spain from the first years of the [foundation] of the state,” Bennett said.

The education minister, who is the son of olim from the US, said there are still “open wounds” with regards to olim in the 1950s from Sephardic countries, as well as Ethiopian and Russian olim from later immigration waves.

“For one moment, over 60 years later, we will look immigrants in the eyes and hug them today – a hug that was lacking then,” Bennett said.

The decision to incorporate Mizrahi olim is based on one of the recommendations of the Biton Committee, released in July, which was tasked with empowering Eastern Jewish cultural studies within the general education curriculum.

Bennett launched the committee earlier this year and appointed Erez Biton, the first poet of Mizrahi descent to win the Israel Prize in Literature, in 2015, as its head.

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

“Following the Biton report, I have decided it is better late than never, and through education we will correct an historic injustice,” Bennett said.

As part of the week, pupils and students will hold school ceremonies and educational classes, be exposed to personal stories of immigrants from various backgrounds and meet with new and old immigrants.

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