Of the 1 million students in the Israeli-Jewish State school system, over 50% study in the Mamlachti (non-Orthodox) stream. In 1994, the Shenhar Commission, urged development of a coherent program of Jewish education to make Jewish and Zionist culture meaningful to the non-Orthodox Jewish population of the Mamlachti schools (Shenhar 1994). However, the Education Ministry resources allocated to implementing the Shenhar Commission’s recommendations, were insufficient and paled next to resources given for Jewish education in Orthodox-Religious Schools. 3% of the available funds were granted to the Mamlachti schools, with 97% going to State-Religious and Haredi schools (Kopelowitz, 2005). Even among non-orthodox populations in schools in the Mamlachti system, “Jewish education” is often equated with “Religious Education” and becomes irrelevant to life outside of the classroom for students who do not live a religious life-style.
At BINA we believe that formal subjects that emphasize Zionist and Jewish history, complemented by informal educational activities which expose children to an emotional Jewish experience and to “Jewish values”, are central to furthering the experience of “Jewish meaning” for non-Orthodox students in Israeli schools. We agree with the 1994 Shenhar report that there is a need to promote a meaningful Jewish educational experience for the non-Orthodox Jew in the Mamlachti school, through the integration of family, school and wider community.
For over twelve years, BINA has been one of the leaders in promoting pluralistic Jewish education in the Secular (Mamlachti) school system throughout Israel. BINA’s main focus is teacher education and student enrichment.
Programming in High Schools:
BINA educators provide educational seminars on topics relating to Judaism as a Culture, Jewish pluralism and social responsibility for numerous upper-schools throughout the country. Since 2011, BINA programs have been implemented in all schools in Kfar Saba and Rishon L’Zion.
“Shorshei Yisrael” (Family Tree) Educational program at ORT Schools:
BINA is the main educational service provider for the nation-wide ORT school network’s curriculum addressing issues of Jewish Identity. Each participating school is assigned an educational coordinator from BINA who trains the school’s teaching staff and provides content and process supervision. Each school undergoes a series of BINA-led seminars and workshops throughout the year. BINA is currently working with over 40 schools in the network throughout the country. This is the seventh consecutive year BINA has been awarded the tender for this project. 160 teachers participate in the program and close to 1500 pupils.
Sample seminar topics:
Judaism and Democracy: This seminar deals with the constant tension inherent in Israel as a Jewish-democratic state. This seminar grapples with the tension through modern Jewish philosophy in dialogue with global political issues such as religion and state, government and policy and authority and representation, while referencing Jewish and non-Jewish texts.
A Place in the Land: The Hebrew calendar, rooted in Israel’s climate and land, ties us to the Place in which we live. This seminar offers an in-depth study of the Hebrew calendar, which serves as an essential building block in the understanding and creation of Jewish culture.