Monday, February 05, 2007

Missionaries at our schools

Millionaire Leviev and his Lubavitch beliefs should be kept out of classroom

Shulamit Aloni

Mr. Lev Leviev is a great patriot and a very precious man. He is precious not only because he has lots of money, but also because he's filled with religious zeal just like all Lubavitchers, and just like them he is eager to draw more people to this type of religious Judaism and plant it in their tender hearts, in order to "enhance their Jewish identity."

In his view, Jewish identity is of course religious Judaism. Or in other words, he's a missionary boasting a high budget that enables him to capture the hearts of the children, and first and foremost the mayors, who are always willing to cooperate on any matter associated with money.

Catholic Jesuits used to say: Give us your children until the age of ten and take them back later. After being brainwashed at young age, any amateur psychologist knows that there is no way back. Therefore, the effort to "enhance the Jewish identity" among young school children (it's a wonder kindergartens have not yet been invaded) is an operation, in Jewish terms, of "soul stealing", clear and simple.

Fearing God, loving God, thanking God: No scientific thought, no curiosity, nothing about the value of the human being and human equality – and many more"NO's," as is common in Chabad-Lubavitch schools. All this wisdom is provided to children not by teachers, but rather, young women sent on behalf of Mr. Leviev, Lubavitch- or Shas-style.

I very much respect the members of Chabad and Shas, because I believe each person is entitled to his or her own belief. But the national school system has a different system and objective than those of Chabad-Lubavitch, and we are allowed to demand that Mr. Leviev and his ilk respect our own beliefs, and also respect the parents of children who study in the national school system.

After all, if the parents wanted to turn their children into Lubavitchers, they would send them to another school system.

I fail to grasp the irresponsibility and odd haste displayed by mayors, who allowed missionary penetration of schools only because this creates the impression they are concerned about education and the addition of study hours.

If Mr. Leviev indeed wishes to contribute to school children, he better ensure that new classrooms are added and that warm meals are provided where they're needed. In particular, if knowledge of Judaism is important to him, he should grant scholarships to students wishing to concentrate on bible or Jewish though studies at the university or teachers' college.

At teachers' seminars in university, people learn Jewish thought, and this isn't done through missionary activity at elementary schools in a bid to steal souls for the sake of religious belief, instilling fear of God, and inspiring children to love for every Jew (even if he is a scoundrel,) which means arrogance and haughtiness and a broad platform for cultivating hatred for others. We already have legitimate racist parties around here. Is this desired?

Teachers' Union's silence

Jewish identity in the sovereign State of Israel means good citizenship, taking responsibility for one's society, human solidarity, recognition of human rights, and the development of curiosity and criticism, a well as an urge to investigate, ask questions, and gain knowledge in science and the arts. Jewish identity also means cooperating with other peoples in the country, region, and the entire world.

What Leviev is doing in the former USSR isn't similar to the situation in Israel where we are the sovereigns, in control, and have our own government, Education Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and military, and where we are responsible for every citizen residing here – that is, responsible for their rights and freedoms, without having to check their mother's of father's genes, and without peeking into their pots and pans or scrutinizing what they eat during holidays.

Jewish identity

More than I'm upset at Leviev, who after all believes in his mission, I'm angry at local council heads and school principals who took the easy road and were happy to get close to this very precious man, perhaps in the hopes they will elicit more donations from him for municipal matters.

In fact, more than anything I'm surprised by the conduct of the Teacher's Union, which is currently battling for raising the status of the teacher at school and among the public – they are silent when missionaries lacking pedagogical education and proper general education are brought in; missionaries who lack the knowledge that allows a teacher to provide students, beyond a stimulating lesson, information about nature, stories and tales, and newspaper articles, while birnging up issues of government, war, and peace.

In elementary school, everything hinges on everything, and the talented teacher knows how to combine all this information and enrich students. So where's the Teacher's Union, and of course, where is the Education Ministry and education minister?

There is no obligation to adopt any belch or hiccup coming from a millionaire only because he is nice, very wealthy, and a very precious Jew, in more than one way.

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