New Article: Weiss, The Politics of Yiddish in Israeli Popular Culture

Weiss, Shayna. “Shtisel’s Ghosts: The Politics of Yiddish in Israeli Popular Culture.” In Geveb, March 6, 2016.

 

URL: http://ingeveb.org/blog/shtisel-s-ghosts-the-politics-of-yiddish-in-israeli-popular-culture

 

Extract

The popular embrace, in newspapers and talkbacks, of Shtisel’s Yiddish stands in contrast to the unease with which Arabic is received in Israeli society, even on television; Yiddish is a softer, safer other for mainstream Jewish Israeli viewers. Yet Yiddish is not feminized and defanged, because Shtisel succeeds in challenging those stereotypes by displaying the breadth of Yiddish in the Israeli Hasidic context. Shtisel also humanizes Israeli Haredim, whose reputation among secular Israelis is often stereotyped to the point of invoking anti-Semitic tropes. Not all non-Hebrew languages in Israel are created equal.

Opinions: Lehman, Establishing an Integrated Community and School in Israel

What is the mission and vision for a Jewish day school that can unite a population with a wide variety of Jewish beliefs, affiliations and practices? Ayelet Lehman provides perspective by describing how this challenge has played out at an intentionally pluralistic school in Israel.

URL: http://www.ravsak.org/news/882/279/Establishing-an-Integrated-Community-and-School-in-Israel-A-Continuing-Challenge/

 

Excerpt

It is important to understand that unlike other schools in Israel, which are established through the education system and the local authority, the Keshet School in Mazkeret Batya was established by a group of parents in order to realize their social-educational goals. Even so, some of the teachers who joined the school were not familiar with the vision of Keshet, its teaching philosophy and educational practices. For this reason, two years after the establishment of the school, various stakeholders undertook a structured process of forming a school vision. The process was led by the school administration, with staff and parents participating.

The implementation of the Keshet School vision was led by staff members together with the parents. The challenge now was to translate the vision into a practical program for all ages. For example, the meeting group (secular) discussed the definition of secular identity that is a mix of Jewish, Israeli and universal components. If so, what is the ratio we expect between those components? To what cultural legacy do we want to expose our children? To what extent will the school focus on Jewish laws and customs? What principles will guide the teaching and learning in this group? During the discussion diverse voices emerged, some focusing on social values, others putting emphasis on experiential learning, some emphasizing critical thinking, learning through asking questions, and examining dilemmas.

Who will teach the complex subjects? It became necessary to find teachers who are familiar with the material, whose worldview is pluralistic, who consider the two identity groups as equals, who are able to accept feelings, attitudes and behaviors different from their own, and who will protect every child’s right to express his or her opinion, even if it contradicts the worldview of another.

Opinions: Magid, Pluralism, Ethos, Creativity and Israel

Shaul Magid responds to Daniel Lehmann’s essay, “Beyond Continuity, Identity, and Literacy” on Jewish education, highlighting the role of Israel in Jewish Education in America today.

 

URL: http://www.ravsak.org/news/891/279/Pluralism-Ethos-Creativity-and-Israel/

 

 

Excerpt

The question of Israel is indeed a vexing one. Many of us who remember Israel before 1967 and who were raised on Leon Uris’ Exodus and Otto Preminger’s film version of that mythic novel must remember that our students only know a much complex Israel, more Western, economically stable, and also mired in managing a 45 year occupation. Many students may ask why Israel should be important at all, or why they should learn about Israel when Israelis learn almost nothing about the contemporary diaspora. Many will argue that Israel does not embody the democratic values they learned were sacred in America.

I think the question “why Israel?” should be an operative one in Jewish education today. We may take that for granted but they may not. Their experience is very different than ours. Assuming Israel is or should be a central part of American Jewish identity formation is more indoctrination than education, at least along the lines Lehmann suggests. Can Jewish education in American today have room for Jewish non-Zionism or even anti-Zionism? If not, why not? I think the Israel curriculum in American Jewish education is in dire need of reformation. It rests on a foundation that is simply outdated and does not speak to the reality of Israel today. The question “How do we teach Israel as a centerpiece of Jewish identity?” should include, in my view, the question “Why teach Israel as a centerpiece of Jewish identity?” allowing for contesting viewpoints and arguments.