At Ra’anana school, a different kind of Tikun Shavuot

iI was no surprise that Meitarim Ra’anana’s traditional annual Tikkun Shavuot epitomized its pluralistic educational philosophy.

May 18, 2013 22:42
2 minute read.
FORMER RA’ANANA mayor and MK Ze’ev Bielski

FORMER RA’ANANA mayor and MK Ze’ev Bielski 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

For a school that strives to develop a sense of community among a diverse group of students and parents, it was no surprise that Meitarim Ra’anana’s traditional annual Tikkun Shavuot epitomized its pluralistic educational philosophy.

Educators, who came from Israel and the US, represented secular, orthodox and traditional viewpoints.

This year’s program, the ninth since the school’s founding in 2003, was held Monday evening, the night before Shavuot, with the theme ‘Beyond Mount Sinai – the Torah’s influence on cultures and societies through the ages.’ This theme was partially inspired by President Barack Obama’s declaration of this month as Jewish Heritage Month. He stated, “teachings from the Torah lit the way toward a more perfect Union, from women’s rights to workers’ rights to the end of segregation.”

“The range of speakers and topics on the program mirror both our students’ hashkafa (philosophy) and that of the broader Ra’anana community,” said Ilana Mushkin, chairwoman of Meitarim’s Parents’Association for Pluralistic Education. “We want the parents and students who participate to take away both deeper thinking and practical insights from the evening.”

One of the keynote speakers was the renowned writer and feminist leader, Blu Greenberg, who discussed the Torah’s consideration of universal human rights. “If you Google ‘Torah and human rights’ you don’t find much,” she explained to a standingroom- only group.

However, she added, the Torah’s treatment of prisoners, slaves and bystanders is a model for what emerged in the 20th century as universal human rights. Several of Greenberg’s 23 grandchildren have been Meitarim students.

Another keynote speaker was Ze’ev Bielski, former Ra’anana mayor, Jewish Agency chairman and member of Knesset. Bielski expounded on Torah and leadership, weaving quotations from Tanach with often humorous anecdotes of his own life and education.

“It’s kind of cool to compare how Moshe Rabeinu led Bnei Yisrael with how we look at our leaders now,” said Jonah Lakin, a ninth-grader at the school.

Lainie Cogan, one of Meitarim’s English teachers, implored students and parents to consider the influence of Torah on popular Anglo culture.

She led a lively discussion about allusions to Torah in the world’s great literature.

The entire lineup of speakers exemplified the vibrant and tolerant atmosphere at Meitarim Ra’anana, an accredited six-year pluralistic junior high and high school nestled in a northern neighborhood of the city.

Students from all over the Sharon and Tel Aviv area converge there to study in a demanding academic environment of tolerance for fellow Jews.

The small classrooms, in which each student’s voice is valued, encourage personal excellence and critical thinking.

Community service is also an integral part of the learning.

For many this is a dream come true where Jews learn as brothers and sisters in mutual admiration and respect.

“The pre-Shavuot program creates a dialogue for everyone to participate without imposing a particular view,” said Lorre Goldberg, parent of a tenth-grader. “It shows the best of our teachers and our students, all within a traditional night of learning.”

Meitarim Ra’anana currently is enrolling students for next year.

For more information, visit the school’s website at Pamela Braverman is a parent of a 9th-grade student at Meitarim Ra’anana.

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