Maintaining Religious Zionist Values in Public Religious Schools
Israel’s public religious school system has always been the bastion of Religious Zionism, reflecting religious and universal values and educating children to become part of a community that lives in the worlds of both Torah and Avodah successfully. In order to maintain these institutions as a reflection of the community’s values, Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah carefully follows trends and works to improve the schools and the system when necessary.
First, the organization conducts intensive research on areas that are potentially problematic. When troubling trends become apparent, it uses a number of avenues: awareness is raised about the problem; parents, school administrations, and authorities are conscripted; and issues are raised through lobbying activities.
Moreover, specific issues are often brought to our attention and we work diligently to assess and correct them. For example, when it became apparent some schools had increased religious studies at the expense of general studies (where traditionally the two were given equal weight), Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah gathered evidence of the trend, lobbied, and created media campaigns in order to ensure that the equal values were reflected equally in school curricula. We were gratified to see that the general studies removed from the school schedules are being returned; the State Comptroller’s report noted that a clearer policy was necessary; and principals are being given more authority to make decisions that suit their communities. (For more, see here).
Current activities include:
- Confronting ethnic segregation in religious schools
- Confronting gender segregation in religious schools
- Upgrading science education in religious schools
- Promoting English language studies in religious schools
- Advancing the humanities in religious schools
- Assessing overt and implied messages in textbooks used in religious schools
We are gratified to see that our research is often quoted in the media and even in the Knesset. We continue to conduct research as needed in order to observe short-term and long-term trends in the world of public religious education.