Peretz undeterred by criticism, increases amount of religion studies

New Education Minister not impressed with claims of religious brainwashing, adds thousands of hours of Jewish culture and religious studies to curriculum.

August 18, 2019 18:33
1 minute read.
MK Rafi Peretz at a ceremony at the education ministry

MK Rafi Peretz at a ceremony at the education ministry. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Education Minister Rafi Peretz is attempting to increase the amount of Judaism-related content in the Israeli school curriculum, Army Radio reported on Sunday.

According to the report, Peretz has initiated a plan to expand classes related to "Israeli Jewish Culture" in the public school system. According to the plan, 1st and 2nd grade students will be exposed to more texts pertaining to Jewish legacy and Judaism in general.

It is important to note that Rabbi Peretz has come under fire for allegations that he will bring a heavy religious influence to the education system through the addition of religious content. Similar claims were made about his predecessor Naftali Bennett. Peretz addressed these claims upon entering the position several weeks ago: "I'm a believer who lives his life according to the Torah. I hear people talking about religious influence. That's almost complete fiction: there's no religious influence. I respect everyone, I don't plan on forcing anyone to do anything, I want to make that clear. If anything, Israeli society has a secular influence."

Rabbi Amihai Eliyahu, head of the Association of Community Rabbis blessed the decision, claiming that "Over the past few years there has been a feeling as though there exists a hatred of anything related to us as a Jewish people. Anti Jewish forums make a lot of noise, and yet the Israeli public loves Judaism and would like to keep it the way it is. Rabbi Peretz's declaration touches on exactly this subject. A small group of hot-headed people are working to hurt the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and we will not let that happen."

The Democratic Camp criticized Peretz claiming that "The Minister of Education is taking the system responsible for educating our children and inching it ever closer towards a system for extreme brainwashing. The same Education Minister, who added the racist "Nation-State" law into the high school curriculum last weekend, prefers not to address the overcrowding of classrooms, improving teacher pay or strengthening the system - only more and more religious influence. It's not only that we should win the next election – we need to win."

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