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September 2, 2014 | 7th Elul 5774

Teach Them Diligently

Galilee Diary #449, July 22, 2009
Marc Rosenstein

 

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, Israel, 1921

As 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.

 

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