For a while now the complaints regarding the Jewish schools in
Israel are unceasing - that
the children of Israel, the
students in these schools, lack "the taste of Torah," a residue of Judaism -
they feel no joy in their Jewish identity... -Historian Joseph Klausner,
part of the work of our center staff as facilitators and consultants for ORT
high schools "Israel Roots" program, we recently conducted in-service sessions
for teachers slated to participate in the program next year. These were very
interesting and encouraging experiences. In Hebrew, there is a definite
difference in connotation between chinuch (education) and hora'ah (instruction).
Since the beginning of the 20th century, what Americans call the "homeroom"
teacher is called here the mechanech, or "educator." Regardless of ability
grouping, majors, etc., every student meets once a week with his/her homeroom
class and educator - generally the same group and same teacher for at least two
and often three years. The position has a definite "guidance" element to it, and
the period is used, beyond the usual bureaucratic functions, for informal
activities relating to various social and moral issues that are of concern to
the school or the community. This is a universal practice in Israel, and is
considered a pillar of the system. The homeroom teacher has a kind of parental
responsibility for his/her charges, and many teachers take it very seriously.