Survey Presented to Education Committee: 80% Think Children Should Learn More About Jewish Heritage

By Aryeh Stern

The Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, chaired by MK Yosef Taieb (Shas), convened on Monday for a debate on resilience among schoolchildren during the war, given the concern that values of heritage and Jewish identity are being de-emphasized in the education system.

Dorit Yitzchak, executive director of Me’irim-Education Is Tradition, said: “Our education system has been taken over. My child didn’t learn Torah in state education from first grade to fourth grade. They didn’t mark Tu BiShvat there this year. In my other son’s civics classes, they instilled progressive left-wing values. We conducted a survey via the Maagar Mochot institute, polling 1,000 parents and teachers across the country, which showed that the children don’t know enough and the teachers don’t teach enough. They’re helpless because of the system.”

Additional data from the survey showed that a clear majority of parents and teachers in state education believe that additional lessons on the heritage of the Jewish people should be added to the curriculum, and that the negative discourse regarding Judaism and heritage studies leads to erasure of Jewish identity among the students. The survey showed further that 80% of parents think that in the wake of the war and the Simchas Torah massacre, it is necessary to know and learn more about the Jewish people’s heritage. It was also found that only 27% of the parents think that the education system provides a proper response on issues related to the Jewish people’s heritage.

MK Galit Distel Atbaryan (Likud) said: “The state education system robbed me of my identity. And what is happening now is a thousand times worse. Judaism is a treasure trove of knowledge, a diamond. We are compelled to force this diamond upon people because they don’t know what’s in there. An ignorant generation is growing here. In Gaza, they have All-h. We had the roots cut out from under us. I studied philosophy for seven years. That is dust compared to the diamond that we are sitting on and burying. Our children don’t know what it means to be Jewish. Children are growing up here who think that their Judaism means eating pizza.”

MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) said: “The desire to compromise with everyone has caused a situation in which the Ministry of Education doesn’t understand its role in the Jewish State. I’m neither religious nor right wing, but I’m pained by this erosion.”

MK Tally Gotliv (Likud) said: “We have identified among the students erosion of the ethos and the Jewish heritage in the State of Israel. There is a ‘deep state’ in the education system, of NGOs that come in and instill radical ideas, and I don’t know who is supervising them. This way we find students who have not developed a Jewish ethos. My definition of the state is Jewish and democratic.”

Committee Chair MK Taieb added, “There is a giant gap between the Ministry of Education’s programs and what happens on the ground. A transparency mechanism should be set up for schools that will inform the parents about the education hours studied in the school. I can identify failures here in the chain of administration, down to the classrooms. In light of the findings of the Me’irim organization, I propose that the Ministry of Education form a pedagogic committee to examine the study materials in question versus the study materials from a decade ago, to check whether there has been an attrition. We will convene here for a follow-up debate.”

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