Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Greatest Threat to the State of Israel

I often spend my waking hours thinking of the challenges that are facing the Jewish People, and how best we can overcome them. When I am together with friends, invariably, we most often spend our time discussing these matters, as well. I am an avid reader, and one of the things that I take pride in is the sizeable library of both Jewish books, as well as books relating to Israel and the Jewish People, that I have established in my home.

Growing up in America, I attended from kindergarten through University, Orthodox Jewish day schools. I received the best Jewish education money could buy, and yet, at no point do I really recall ever being taught about what it meant to be a Jew, why the Jewish People should continue exist today, the centrality of the Land of Israel to the destiny and mission of the Jewish People. The emphasis seemed to always be on the "how's" and "what's" of Judaism, but not the "why's".

Personally speaking, if not for my year of study upon graduating high school, in Israel, as well as my willingness to read and learn on my own, I would most likely still remain ignorant to the bigger picture of Judaism and the Jewish People.

It seems that according to a recent study, this seems to be the case in Israel as well.
The study, which was based on an analysis of data appearing in the Program for International Student Assessment from 2003, reveals that Israel languishes at the bottom of the world table when it comes to demand for achievement from students, with most developed European and American countries ranking above it.

"The study paints the picture that teachers in Israel spoon-feed the material to the students and don't challenge them," Mevarech says.

"The teacher in Israel spoon-feeds the students, processes the material for them and poses a low demand threshold," Mevarech says. "The figures show that teachers in Israel are prepared to receive sloppy work from their students."

The greatest threat that faces Israel, as a Jewish State, today, is not the "Palestinians", it is not demography, and it is not even the threat of a nuclear Iran. The greatest threat being posed to the Jewish State of Israel today is the inability of its educational system to produce proud, caring and knowledgeable Jews. A system where the average Jewish child graduates high school without understanding what it means to be a Jew, what it means to have a Jewish State, and why both are worth fighting, sacrificing and even dying for.

The strength of the Jewish People throughout the millennia of exile and persecution has been our ability to pass on from one generation to the next, without fail, a love for Judaism and the Jewish People. The backbone of every Jewish community that survived the long Exile was its Synagogue and its Cheder (Jewish educational system). It is this, and only this, that gave the Jew the strength to get up in the morning when he knew that all that awaited him was discrimination and persecution, pain and suffering. The Jew knew who he was, knew that he was the descendant of Prophets and Kings, and the Jew knew that he was destined to reach those great heights once again, so long as he stayed true to his faith.

There is no excuse that I can think of as to why Israel’s educational system should not be among the best in the world. Israel’s schools should be filled with teachers who are highly motivated and dedicated to the subject matter, a system where the educators would strive to bring out the very best in their students, to encourage growth and creative thinking, and not be willing to merely spoon-feed their students and accept the very least that they have to offer.

The State of Israel must be able to produces generation after generation of proud and knowledgeable Jews (not necessarily religiously observant ones). Jews who will be prepared to work, study, fight, and grow all for the glory of Israel. The key is for every Jew to know who we are, why we are, where we have come from, and where we are going. With that knowledge, I believe that nothing can stand in our way. Without it, I do not believe that we have a future.



2 Comments:

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