HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


Israel in RAVSAK Schools

by Ezra Kopelowitz Issue: Too Jewish? Not Jewish Enough?
TOPICS : Israel

Editor’s Note: No discussion about the Jewish character of a community day school would be complete without exploring the role of Israel and Zionism education. In the printed version, this brief article is followed by a quick survey. We encourage you to download it here and use in your schools.

In Fall, 2004, RAVSAK and the Jewish Agency commissioned an Internet survey of the place of education about Israel in the life of Jewish Community Day Schools in North America.

The resulting report, “Towards What Ideal Do We Strive? A Portrait of Social and Symbolic Engagement with Israel in Jewish Community Day Schools in the United States,” argues that there are two basic types of Israel education - symbolic and social.

Symbolic education involves Israel as part of the overall strategy for establishing the “Jewish look and feel” of the school. In contrast, social education goes beyond the symbolic level and encourages students to form an ongoing relationship and commitment to Israelis and Israel.

All schools participating in the survey are engaged with Israel at the level of symbolism – for example all hold Israel Independence Day ceremonies, fly Israeli flags and hang maps of Israel. However, 22 of the 48 RAVSAK schools participating in this survey go beyond the level of symbolic engagement and encourage their students to engage socially with Israelis and Israeli society. Of these 22 schools, a minority pursue the path of encouraging aliya, and a majority encouraging their students to participate in People to People programming. We also saw that the commitment to a strategy of social engagement with Israel corresponds with a wider educational ethos in the school that includes increased symbolic, informal and formal educational activity along many measures of Jewish culture and religion, including Israel.

The complete report is available at: http://www.researchsuccess.com/default.asp?id=273

Ezra Kopelowitz is the CEO of Research Success Technologies based in Israel. Ezra can be reached at ezra@researchsuccess.com.

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Too Jewish? Not Jewish Enough?

At some point, most day schools find themselves confronted with the question, Are we too Jewish? If we confine Jewish studies to fewer hours in the school day, will more students come? Authors here agree that the “Jewish” part of the school’s mission and identity should be proudly front and center in defining a day school’s raison d’etre.

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