Shimon Peres with first graders.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
There were four generations present at the Chabad religious state school in
Jerusalem’s Ir Ganim neighborhood on Thursday morning, when the school’s
director Rabbi Shimon Yadgar welcomed President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor
Nir Barkat who had come to greet first-graders on their first day at
Quoting the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson,
whose portrait loomed large on the wall, Yadgar told the youngsters that they
were getting the Rebbe’s blessing of love, faith, understanding, love of God,
love of humanity and love of country.
Barkat, who is very familiar with
the Ir Ganim School, said that people want to be associated with this particular
school because of its special spirit, the love that teachers put into their work
and the quality of the education.
Peres based his address on the 10
Commandments and asked the first-graders which of them had heard of the 10
Commandments and then who could recite them off by heart. The small, sole
volunteer became microphone shy and ran back to the group.
them that if they behaved in accordance with the 10 Commandments they would grow
up to become decent human beings. He also emphasized the importance of
“People who don’t learn can’t progress,” he said, adding that
the world is full of Torah and knowledge just waiting for people who want to
Barkat continued to schools and kindergartens in other Jerusalem
neighborhoods including a beautiful new kindergarten and a new school in Givat
Mordechai; a complex of kindergartens and a new school in Homat Shmuel which is
a satellite of Har Homa; and an overcrowded haredi girls’ school in Romema which
desperately needs to expand its premises but is encountering strong opposition
from neighbors whose daughters have studied there or who are current
The new elementary school in Givat Mordechai is currently being
housed at Machon Lev, The Jerusalem College of Technology, until another
building in the neighborhood becomes vacant – which could be a long time down
the road – and the school can move into another facility.
first-graders, waving national flags and blue and white balloons, were lined up
in two rows outside the Beren Institute of Torah and Science.
Orlev, who played a significant role in the school’s establishment, praised
Barkat and Manhi for taking the courageous step of supporting the establishment
of a religious Zionist state school in Givat Mordechai. Religious Zionists, said
Orlev, have made great contributions to the state and have a special affinity
The stronger that religious Zionism becomes within
Jerusalem he declared, the closer it will be to the realization of Barkat’s
dream of more young people and more young families settling in the
Machon Lev President Prof. Noach Picard, said it was a privilege
to host the new school especially as its first-graders will be the only ones who
will ever be able to say that they were the firstgrade one at Machon
“This is the age at which education begins,” he said.
order to make Jerusalem sufficiently attractive for people to not just want to
visit but to want to live in the city, said Barkat, the reforms already
introduced into schools have to be enhanced. Schools have to be adapted to the
needs and desires of the communities in which they are located, he said. He was
convinced that the new school at Givat Mordechai will be a catalyst for the
growth of the neighborhood.
“Givat Mordechai is flourishing and this will
help to bring more religious Zionists to Jerusalem,” he said.
Shmuel, Barkat was joined by Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, a native son of the
city and a staunch advocate for Jerusalem.
Rivlin was there to affix the
mezuza on the new religious state school, but also accompanied Barkat on the
tour of the kindergartens.
While meeting with the young children, Rivlin
attempted to explain the difference between a mayor and a Knesset speaker,
saying the mayor has authority over close to a million people, whereas the
Knesset speaker has authority over only 120 people “who make decisions but who
sometimes make a lot of noise and shout at each other as well.”
the inauguration ceremony of the new school, Rivlin told the firstgraders not to
be afraid of learning because Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, all the
government ministers and members of Knesset had once been in grade
“They started to learn in order to reach their potential,” he said.
“You don’t know yet what that means, but each of you represents a whole
Barkat said that this was the fourth school built in the
neighborhood on his watch.
“We will build more and we will continue to
invest in education,” he pledged.