TALI textbooks are unique in Israel. They offer substantive Jewish content and engaging illustrations that embrace the true diversity of Israeli society – men and women of all different religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds.
This month marks the 482nd anniversary of the start of the trials of Beatriz Rodriguez – a 16th century Castilian midwife tried numerous time by the inquisitors of Toledo. Dr. Renée Levine Melammed, Professor of Jewish History, describes how she first began researching women of the Spanish Inquisition.
No one would deny that engaging with Jewish content in non-religious public schools is fraught with challenges including the allocation of financial resources to Orthodox religious organizations that have infiltrated the system, and at times, objectionable material in their textbooks. Although the Secular Forum shares the credit for exposing some of these failings, its main work is now in fueling an extremist, inflammatory campaign aimed at re-igniting the “Jewish-Israeli conflict” by arousing secular passions against Jewish culture in the state of Israel.
When God instructs Adam in Eden from which tree he is forbidden to eat, the instruction is fairly clear. God said, but: “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Gen. 3: 2-3). Genesis 2 differentiated between the tree of knowledge and the tree that was in the midst of Eden. Knowledge, and how it is communicated, can cause all sorts of problems. SMARTPHONES CAUSE DEPRESSION – You have probably seen the headline in capital letters more than once. Sometimes they add ANXIETY too.
This year, Camp “Ramah Yachad” Ukraine is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its establishment. The camp, founded and funded by Midreshet Yerushalayim and The Schechter Institutes Inc., has played a vital role in the revival of Jewish life among thousands of Jews in the FSU and has helped rebuild Jewish communities in Ukraine.
Distress signals sent out by secularists in recent months have been picked up loud and clear by the Secular Forum, though stridency does not necessarily ensure soundness of the writers’ arguments or best serve their interests. The most important step of any strategy is precise analysis of a given situation. Incorrect analysis leads to hasty action that fails to solve the problem or actually exacerbates it.
In recent months, acrimonious public debate has been raging in Israel over Jewish education enrichment programs. The Secular Forum has been especially vociferous against what it terms “religionization” in non-orthodox state schools, sounding the alarm at the prospect of secular children coming into any contact whatsoever with Jewish content. Were it not for the religious Minister of Education imposing his Jewish agenda, goes secularist reasoning, their children could be studying philosophy, Darwinian theory of evolution, and even Shakespeare.
We are in the opening weeks of the 2017 fall semester at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. One of the innovative aspects of this year’s academic program is the introduction of a new program on Jewish spirituality. It is composed of three primary elements: Kabbalah and Hassidism; World and New Age spirituality and spiritual education. In the spirit of this exciting new program, I would like to briefly explore one of the most significant Jewish philosophers of the twentieth century, Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), whose approach to Jewish education places spirituality at its center.
The High Holidays are a time of transition from one Jewish year to the next. During the week of September 12, 2016, the Schechter Institutes celebrated a number of milestones and transitions. The following is an edited version of my remarks on September 13th.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, there has been ongoing debate over the Ministry of Education’s role in shaping the country’s Jewish identity. Successive education ministers formed public committees, launched new programs, promised transoformations. First was Education Minister Zalman Aran’s “Jewish Awareness” program in the 1950s; then the 1994 Shenhar Committee recommendations; Minister Limor Livnat’s “100 Tenets” program which hardly took its first steps before being shelved; then Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s “Jewish Culture and Heritage” program which lasted around five years before Minister Shai Piron decided to revise it. In between, Knesset Education Committee Chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior promoted the ‘Integrated Education Law,” which posited joint educational programs for secular and religious students in semi-private frameworks.