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.
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.
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.
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.
Rabbi Eran Prince, Rosh Yeshiva of Or Etzion High School