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Publicly-funded Hebrew charter schools serve as ‘vanguard’ for Israel –Forward

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Great reporting by Naomi Zeveloff and Nathan Guttman at the Forward on the extent to which the Jewish charter school movement, which establishes Hebrew-language schools using public funds, is serving a frankly Zionist agenda. The piece demonstrates that Zionism has become central to American Jewish identity, and also, I hope, marks a turning point in American Jewish attitudes towards these schools, dedicated to helping a foreign country. Excerpt:

Yet, as Hebrew charters have overcome stereotypes of being parochial Jewish institutions, they’ve also positioned themselves as more than just schools. Many, though not all, Hebrew charters see themselves as fonts of Israel education that will cultivate students — both Jews and non-Jews — to serve as goodwill ambassadors for Israel in the years ahead. 

“I often dream of what the graduates of our Hebrew-language charter schools will look like 20 years from now,” wrote Sara Berman, the chair of the Hebrew Charter School Center [HCSC] in the Spring 2011 issue of Contact, the journal of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. “I see them as a vanguard of understanding for Israel and for cultural respect in general.” 

Charter schools are publicly funded but privately sponsored primary and secondary schools that pledge, in exchange for their taxpayer support, to meet certain standards put forth in charter agreements with state or local education boards. Many also receive private funds from their sponsoring institutions. Most charter schools operate on a lottery system; families who want to send their children to the schools are picked at random…

One goal of the curriculum at Brooklyn’s Hebrew Language Academy [HLA]— HCSC’s first school [Hebrew Charter School Center]— “is to foster a love for the country of Israel in all of its diversity,” said Principal Laura Silver.

At HLA, whose 306 students are 45% non-white, the Israeli flag hangs alongside the Stars and Stripes…

“A passionate, Israel-oriented, Hebrew-speaking community will almost certainly support Israel and stay connected to Judaism,” wrote [San Diego’s Jennie] Starr in the Autumn 2011 issue of Contact, describing Kavod

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Now try this:
“A passionate, Saudi-oriented, Arabic-speaking community will alsmost certainly support Saudi Arabia and stay connected to Islam,”
and remember or imagine the response.
Passionate attachment should not be fostered to anything but one’s own nation, if then!

From what I hear many (most?) of those pushing for these schools want alternatives to expensive, primarily modern Orthodox, Jewish day schools. In those schools the half-day of Jewish studies combines religious subjects with a celebration of Israel. Since the religious studies aren’t permissible in a charter school, you’re simply left with the Israel advocacy. It would be interesting to know how much this differs from other language-specific charter schools.

Try this title: “Zionism ‘Carefully Taught’ at Hebrew Charter Schools on US Taxpayer Dime”

You’ve got to be taught, before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight

to pay no attention to the Arabs who can’t live in your Utopian “diverse” Ha Olam neighborhood.

Are publicly-funded schools allowed to teach their students to follow a certain political ideology? I don’t know, but I would guess there might be a law against it.

RE: “Great reporting by Naomi Zeveloff and Nathan Guttman at the Forward on the extent to which the Jewish charter school movement, which establishes Hebrew-language schools using public funds, is serving a frankly Zionist agenda.” ~ Weiss MY COMMENT: Do ya think (lol)? [See below for the privately funded version.] FROM WIKIPEDIA [Sheldon Adelson]: [excerpt] Sheldon Gary Adelson (born August 4, 1933) is an American business magnate. He is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer… Read more »