Survey shows 50% of Israeli kids don't know who Herzl was

New program aims to revive the Zionist visionary's spirit among pupils.

yuli tamir herzl 224 88  (photo credit: Courtesy)
yuli tamir herzl 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Half of Israeli students don't have a clue who Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl was, according to a recent survey carried out by the World Zionist Organization. So on Monday, the WZO joined the Jewish National Fund, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and 16-year-old students from Jerusalem high schools at the Mount Herzl Museum to inaugurate a new program to educate students throughout the country about Herzl. The program, spearheaded by Tamir and WZO treasurer Hagai Merom, consists of interactive activities such as movies, seminars, exhibits, Herzl caricature art contests and a visit to the Herzl Museum. "It is so vital that we educate the next generation about Herzl," said Merom. "It is basic knowledge of Zionism." He went on, "Educational programs about Herzl were obviously missing from the curriculum, and this was bad. The next generation was missing the spirit of Herzl." The program's aim is to involve at least 15,000 students from various high schools and universities. "Israel's educational system prior to this new program taught facts about Herzl, but I think it's better when students learn history by being interactive," said Tamir. "This new program will definitely improve the Herzl educational experience and will produce better results than before." In addition to high school students, Tamir and Merom would also like to spread the knowledge of Herzl by sending posters and other educational materials throughout institutions nationwide, including the IDF, various cultural centers and universities, educating the greater Israeli public on the important father figure of Israel. "We have big plans for this program. We are building something that will become huge and highly significant to not only Israeli students but Israelis young and old throughout the country," Merom said. The WZO is in the process of building another part of the Herzl museum, with a $10-million budget, that will contain educational programs and exhibits. The speakers at the inauguration ceremony, held at Herzl's grave, were JNF chairman Effi Shemsler, Merom, Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielsky, Tamir and a representative from the student body. "We hope that we can connect a young generation to its roots, to the old dream of building a state. By coming to Mount Herzl, the Herzl Museum, and participating in this new program, students will be able to understand exactly what it means to be a Jewish state," said Bielsky.