Photo: Yoav Friedman
Archive photo
Photo: Yoav Friedman
The challenge facing educators
Opinion: In order to bring together the four primary sectors of Israeli society, educators must find a formula for coexistence without blurring our respective identities and set a positive example for students.

Educators in Israel face a huge challenge: how to apply the education system to promote a partnership between the four sectors of Israeli society, and this is the reality whether they like it or not, without giving up on vital principles or dismissing the concerns of any sector.



I have tried to tackle this challenge over the past two years, along with other education administrators, at the leadership club of “Israeli Hope in Education”, led by the President's Office, the Ministry of Education and the Lautman Education Forum.


Positive change (Photo: George Ginsberg)
Positive change (Photo: George Ginsberg)

Together with Arab, ultra-Orthodox, secular and religious Zionist educators, we tried to find a formula for the question of how to live together without blurring the identity of each of us. Our common conclusion was that the change must come from the adults and not only from the youth.


With youth, identity is not yet sufficiently established and therefore confusion and identity blurring among young people is greater among participants from the different sectors. In addition, youth encounters, beyond the importance of the experience per se, do not always allow for in-depth processes.


Israeli students, Haifa (Photo: Avishag Shar Yashuv)
Israeli students, Haifa (Photo: Avishag Shar Yashuv)


We realized that thorough action must begin with laying the foundation with the educators themselves: teachers and principals need to become more familiar with the rest of society as well as opportunities for collaboration with teachers from different sectors in their respective fields; we need a collective discourse on educational challenges.


You cannot teach something that you do not believe in. Attempts to educate youth towards coexistence without adopting a methodical approach to the matter does not enable meaningful education and will not advance the goal.


Just as a student who hears his teacher talk about the importance of helping the needy will absorb the lesson much better when he sees the teacher spend time volunteering on his own, the same is true of an educator who talks about coexistence: the lesson is far more effective when the educator takes a proactive approach.


Ultra-Orthodox students (Photo: Yoav Friedman)
Ultra-Orthodox students (Photo: Yoav Friedman)


Watching the interactions between us during our meeting helped us understand that each sector has needs that characterize it, and that any attempt to deny them is a threat, and in any case a recipe for the failure of the entire process.


As long as we are all here together, Jews and non-Jews, religious and secular, it will be much better for everyone if instead of investing energy in division we invest efforts in learning from each other.


The highlight of the process was we went on a two-day trip, where we learned about the strengths and challenges of each sector, about the differences and about what can be learned and adopted from everyone. For me personally, to sit with a group of my peers and try to come up with an agreed common ground on what to present as the main issues and what not was a significant process of group self-identification. It was also significant to see what other sectors chose to present as their core principles.


It is clear to me, given the complexity of each group, that if other people were sitting around the table, the conclusions might have looked different. Therefore, I have no choice but to invite everyone to join and be partners in assembling the puzzle of us all, to influence, to be heard, to learn and to connect, and to be part of building the platform for maintaining the connection between the inhabitants of this country.


Rabbi Eran Prince, Rosh Yeshiva of Or Etzion High School


פרסום ראשון: 12.05.18, 22:35
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