‘THE BEST moment of the Jerusalem YMCA’s launch was when trainers – a mix of Jews and Arabs – demonstrated a variety of gymnastics and aerobics on stage.’.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When is the last time you heard of a Haredi woman in Israel, teaching hebrew in an Arab school? Well, as Eital Levi admits herself, she is somewhat of a trendsetter.
Eital, who is fluent in Arabic as well, explained to Channel 12 that she was always looking for something more as an educator, to fill a specific niche and her family respect her for it.
"I don't just see my role as a classroom teacher, but rather as a someone who can exact change and reform in broader society," she said.
When interviewed by Channel 12, students in the school referred to the positive relationships she built with them and the fun atmosphere she generated in the classroom.
"I enjoy sitting in her Hebrew lessons. We learn from her and she teaches us in an interesting way," one of the boys said. Another referred to the way she helped weaker students, "She always makes sure we all understand and don't feel left out."
Asked about whether politics comes into the staff room and classroom, Eital said, "Of course it does and I make sure other teacher and students feel free to ask. I try to use our discussions on what is happening here in Israel as a catalyst for understanding."
Furthermore, Eital said that even though initially, stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas needed to be broken down, once that process is done, the interaction between herself and the students is respectful and productive.
"Jews and Arabs interact in various contexts," she explained. "But, in the school environment you can build up one-to-one relationships that are really special. For instance, yesterday two children had a fight and this morning I put my hand on their shoulders to make sure they had sorted things out. This type of warm and personal interaction can often only happen in the school environment."
Do her students ask her questions about Judaism? Of course they do! An example she gave was at Passover time when they ask her about Matzah.
"Of course my students ask me questions about Judaism. For instance, they asked about why we eat Matzah and after I told them the reason, they gave me their own narrative they had heard - that when the Jews were traveling in the wilderness, they did not have ovens and therefore they could only make Matzah and not regular bread!"
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