The multiple voices of Israeli society: An opportunity or recipe for disaster?

This philosophy is very different from the sectorial approach that advocates education according to distinct world views and lifestyles.

March 29, 2016 20:57
2 minute read.
Temple Mount

Israeli flag and Temple Mount . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The fabric of Israeli society is woven from multiple voices, cultures, world views and cultural forces. While colorful and magnificent, the intricacy of Israeli society confronts us with challenges which take the shape of major disputes pertaining to issues critical to our shared existence and make the sense of cohesion very difficult to obtain.

The persistent nature of each group often threatens the integrity of the fabric.

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Powerful values collide like rolling thunder, creating major public debates. Each group regards its values as nearly sacred, nothing short of a determinant of its core identity. Each group is convinced that giving up one of its values will compromise its identity, leaving it incomplete.

It is hard to find a way to bridge the gaps when it comes to beliefs and opinion, when religion clouds democracy or the other way around, and when sectorial identities fight to find their place in the national identity. Bridging the gaps becomes even more difficult when the political view of one party is perceived by the other party as endangering the existence of the state.

The mission we should all share should be finding the way to walk the path of this complicated reality without impairing our national strength or inflicting irreparable damage. We must learn the historical lesson of the Second Temple and not repeat the mistakes that brought on us destruction and exile. We must learn to respect the heterogeneity of Israeli society and regard it as a source for richness and creation, not for detachment and alienation.

At Tzav Pius we chose to bring about the change through shared education for all the community’s children.

This philosophy is very different from the sectorial approach that advocates education according to distinct world views and lifestyles.

The joint schools and kindergartens serve as natural meeting points for the children, providing them with a learning and personal experience that broadens their horizons.

Sitting next to each other, the ones with the kippa and the ones without it, the children are brought up together on the values of Judaism, Zionism and democracy.

Just as important, the joint schooling provides the staff and the parents an opportunity to participate in the educational process and become active partners in bringing about the change.

The natural daily interaction in the kindergarten, on the school yard or in sports provides opportunities for deeper acquaintance, bringing down the barriers, dispelling myths and grows a new, enhanced variety of Israelis who do not feel threatened by the diversity of Israeli society; rather, they regard it as an avenue for creating a better society.

Hamachane Hameshutaf (“the joint camp”) of Tzav Pius brings together youth from all walks of Israel – secular, religious, Mizrachi, Ashkenazi, new immigrants and sabras, residents of central Israel and its periphery.

They learn how to get along together for the duration of the camp and afterwards in activities held throughout the year. Each boy and girl contributes his or her special color. Together they form the 12 choshen gems that adorn the heart of our nation, in the same way that they adorned the breastplate of the High Priest, one for each tribe. Their strength and shine emanate even brighter when they sit side by side, distinct colors highlighted by the common, symbolic blue and white that they share.

The writer is the director general of Tzav Pius.

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