The state religious education is perceived as segregating itself from the Israeli public, although it "teaches tolerance towards fellowmen," a Ynet-Yesodot survey reveals.
The survey was conducted by the Panels research institute among 502 respondents – a national representative sample of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The maximal sampling error is 4.4%.
The strength of the state religious education according to 38% of respondents is first and foremost moral education. There are no disagreements on this issue, and among all sectors this trait was ranked first: Seculars – 34%, traditional Jews – 51%, religious Jews – 38%, and haredim – 40%.
Twenty-two percent noted the teaching of giving to the State and leadership in the army and society, 15% - the education for faith and observing mitzvoth and combining them in modern life, and 4% the high level of studies. Six percent chose to mention other points, and 15% had no opinion on the matter.
Education to activism
Asked "In which of the following areas should religious education improve?" more than half of respondents (58%) said it should stop segregating itself from the Israeli society.
Seventeen percent believe religious education should reduce its involvement in politics and stop sending its students to political protests. Seven percent said it should be "more serious" in terms of religion, and 5% stated that it should become less elitist. Five percent chose other points for improvement, and 8% did not respond.
An analysis according to religious definitions reveals that the haredim (67%) believe religious education should mainly improve the religious level, the religious (25%) find it more important that the sector's schools stop engaging in political issues, while the traditional (69%) and seculars (66%) are mostly bothered by the segregation from the Israeli society.
Nonetheless, education to tolerance
Despite the segregation claims, 41% of respondents believe religious education manages to preach tolerance. Twenty five percent said it does so "moderately", and 28% said it does so somewhat or not at all. The remaining seven percent had no opinion.
Most haredim (93%) and traditional Jews (54%) complimented religious education for preaching tolerance, while the most common response among the seculars (37%) was that it does not preach tolerance.
And to what extent does it encourage social activism? Forty percent believe very much so, 25% say moderately, 33% - somewhat or not at all, and 2% have no opinion on the issue. In this matter too the haredim (67%), religious (93%) and traditional (41%) praise religious education, while the seculars (43%) claim it has failed.
'Challenges: Equality and tolerance'
According to Yesodot Director Shoshi Becker, "The survey shows that the Israeli public regards religious education highly, particularly in places it invests greatly: Moral education and giving to the State. The religious public has a lot of appreciation for its education system and gives it "high grades" in the professional, religious and social aspects.
"However, the survey points to two significant challenges faced by religious education leaders: The first – dealing with elitism and seclusion (a shortcoming raised by two-thirds of the religious public and about 70% of the secular public).
"It seems religious education has yet to find the way to combine giving the option of Torah education to parents seeking it, while applying the principle of equality in education.
"The second challenge is tolerance. Most of the traditional, haredi and religious public believes that religious education encourages tolerance, but only one-quarter of the secular public believes so.
"Tolerance is not agreement, and does not have to lead to education blurring and loss of one's way. The issue requires clarification and teaching on how to create a person with religious strength, alongside an ability to listen to one's fellowman and respect him."
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