Education Minister Naftali Bennett meets with pupils at the start school year.
(photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
Amid US President Trump’s visit to Jerusalem, tens of thousands of Israeli pupils descended on the capital as the Education Ministry this week marked 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem.
Students from around the country from all educational streams are taking part in the festive week from May 21 through 25, which includes tours, marches, performances and educational activities.
“During the most moving moment in life, at a wedding, the groom mentions Jerusalem – only among the Jewish people,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said, adding, “Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people.”
Bennett explained that Jerusalem has been the education system’s yearlong theme, with the peak of activities on the topic taking place this week.
“Our aim is to bring Israeli students to connect with the love of the city and to get to know its stories and its heroes – a love that is precious to us and to our forefathers,” Bennett said. “Jerusalem Day will once again become a holiday for all the children of Israel.”
Events for students during the week included: a three day journey to Jerusalem for some 30,000 pupils; theatrical performances and workshops which embody “Jerusalem’s spirit”; school dance groups, orchestras, and choir performances; screening of student films about Jerusalem; and talks by veteran soldiers who fought to liberate the city.
Education Ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav said tens of thousands of pupils had already visited the capital during the year, with this week marking “record events of the Jubilee celebrations – in the spirit of the ministry’s strategic plan.”
“Jerusalem Week in education is designed to expose the students to the importance of Jerusalem and its place as the capital of Israel in the past, present and future,” he said.
“This week all Israeli pupils will celebrate the city’s 50th anniversary.”
The ministry also prepared a short movie on the history of Jerusalem which will be screened to students throughout the country on Wednesday.
While some critics have questioned the theme of a united Jerusalem and its sensitivities to non-Jewish students, the ministry stressed that the “uniqueness of Jerusalem is expressed in that it is sacred to three religions, and its ability to be a source of shared life, out of mutual respect, acceptance, peace and unity.”
As such, the ministry said students from non-Jewish sectors will also celebrate the Day and in addition will learn about places of importance in Jerusalem to Christians and Muslims.