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Sunday, July 20, 2008

News fit for Shiva Asar BeTamuz: Israel digging its own grave.

Ed Ministry Removes Torah from Lev Leviev Jewish Identity Pgm

17 Tammuz 5768, 20 July 08 02:09
by Hana Levi Julian

( The Education Ministry has decided to reconsider implementing the Lev Leviev Foundation's Zman Masa (Journey Time) curriculum for the upcoming school year. However, the state has set two conditions - chopping out most of the program's Orthodox Jewish faith-based references and making sure that only teachers within the secular state system are allowed to teach it.

The program is intended to strengthen Jewish identity. The foundation picks up the cost of the program, which includes two instruction hours per week, as well as all course materials.

The state's main objection, as expressed by pedagogic secretariat director Professor Anat Zohar in April, was that "the program is written from the viewpoint of faith, observing the commandments and accepting G-d's sovereignty." The pedagogic secretariat is responsible for approving external programs.

According to Zman Masa, the program was approved by the previous director-general at the Education Ministry, Shmuel Abuav. It has operated for the past two years without the ministry's pedagogic secretariat's authorization.

Last year the program was taught by 160 adjunct teachers in 66 public elementary schools in Rishon LeTzion, Netanya, Petah Tikva and Beit Shemesh. All the teachers were Orthodox Jews who actively practice the concepts taught in the curriculum.

But this year an Education Ministry official told Haaretz, "The program will be taught exclusively by teachers from the state school system."  Zman Masa program director Shai Rinsky commented that it has been difficult to find secular teachers who are able to do so.

The program, which was designed to bolster Jewish identity, will apparently have to have large pieces rewritten, such as those subjects that refer to Jewish ritual hand-washing, how to tell the difference between kosher and non-kosher animals and information on the Holy Temple and its ritual vessels. References to the Leviev Foundation -- which created and funded the program -- will be deleted from title pages as well.

Changes that are currently being made in the curriculum are expected to be completed by mid-August, and are expected to comply with the parameters delineated in the Shenhar Report, which stipulated that Judaic studies at state schools must remain pluralistic.


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