Photo: Avi Mualem
Minister o Education Bennett. A new curriculum.
Photo: Avi Mualem

Mizrahi Jewish subjects to get larger school focus

A committee established by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, headed by poet Erez Biton, is to examine ways to intensify school subjects that deal with culture, history, and Zionism among Jews of non-European descent.

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett announced on Wednesday details on the new committee to recommend new material in schools to reflect the cultural richness and history of non-European Jews whose origins lie in the Middle East, North Africa, and other Muslim-majority areas. The committee is to be headed by Israeli Moroccan-descended poet Erez Biton, a former recipient of the Israel Prize.



The Biton Committee is to be comprised of several subcommittees, each mapping the relevant topics under its purview, examining them, and suggesting ways of enriching the school curriculum with more content related to Mizrahi topics. Recommendations are set to be presented to Minister Bennett in approximately three weeks.


Erez Biton. Heading the new committee. (Photo: Eli Segal)
Erez Biton. Heading the new committee. (Photo: Eli Segal)


The Ministry of Education is calling for the public to also take part in the efforts and suggest new ways and ideas for implementing new content in the curriculum.


"Today, we started a revolution of inserting the heritage of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews into the education system," said Minister Bennett. "We cannot raise a generation that only knows part of its heritage. Today, we bring the Sephardic and Mizrahi heritage back to the youths – the heroic tales of transit camps, and the fathers of Zionism who came from Europe, but also from Tunisia. We cannot educate youths to 'love thy neighbor as thyself' when the youths don't know their neighbors, who comprise half their class."


As part of the initiative, three new episodes of 1981 documentary mini-series “Pillar of Fire”, about the history of Zionism, are set to be produced to recognize the role Mizrahi Jews took in Israel’s founding.


 “The Mizrahi Jewish revolution will not remain between school walls,” said Minister Bennett. “We will change the treatment of Mizrahi culture in all areas, including television. The era of telling half of the story is over. We are one people with one story, full and complete.”


He said the new TV episodes and additions to curricula will complete the half of the story that has been lost.


Biton said that before the original airing of “Pillar of Fire”, he and some Mizrahi intellectuals petitioned the High Court of Justice with a demand to add content about Mizrahi Jews’ contributions to Zionism and the creation of Israel. “The series was ultimately aired with gaps,” he said. “The new episodes will fill these gaps about their role and significant contribution.”


According to Biton, among the important figures ignored by the series was Yehuda Bibas, “A Spanish-Moroccan Jew who began his activities before visionary of the state Herzl, and worked and advocated funding a Jewish state in the land of Israel. The goal is to enrich the knowledge and educated about Mizrahi identity.”



פרסום ראשון: 03.04.16, 19:37
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