Trending Topics:

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

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 10 Comments

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

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

10 Responses

  1. Bumblebye
    Bumblebye
    May 9, 2012, 1:39 pm

    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!

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      May 9, 2012, 2:30 pm

      Even better, try the intense vitriol and Islamophobia directed toward the Khalil Gibran charter school and its principal, Debbie Almontaser. A school named after a famous Lebanese Christian poet, which was dedicated to teaching Arabic language and culture broadly, was demonized as promoting anti-Semitism and terrorism. Yet, Hebrew charter schools can, not only promote Zionist ideology and a connection to a particular country, but present a truncated vision of the country’s Hebrew-speaking population — especially the 20% who are Palestinian Citizens of Israel:

      “There is a compelling case for the advantages of bilingual teaching, and it doesn’t matter if it is Chinese, Spanish or Hebrew,” said Scott Pearson, executive director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, which approved the Sela Public Charter School on April 23. “If there would be a good proposal for an Ancient Greek school, we’d probably approve it, too.”

      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.

      … In an interview, Aaron Listhaus, HCSC’s executive director, said he “couldn’t really say” if the Hebrew charters were meant to burnish Israel’s public image at a time when the Jewish state is facing increasing international criticism. “Our kids, we believe, have an affinity for Israel through the curriculum,” he said.

      On the school level, administrators were more explicit. One goal of the curriculum at Brooklyn’s Hebrew Language Academy — HCSC’s first school — “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. (The proportion of Jews in the school is unknown as U.S. Department of Education rules prohibit enrollment policies and statistical tracking of students on the basis of religion.) Students at HLA and Hatikvah International Academy, another HCSC charter in East Brunswick, N.J., learn about the lives of six fictional Israeli families who live on Ha’Olam Street (Hebrew for “the world”). Each of the families represents a distinct Israeli immigrant story — one family descends from both Moroccan Jews and Holocaust survivors, for instance. But Arabs, who make up 20% of the population inside Israel proper, have no presence on Ha’Olam Street.

      • piotr
        piotr
        May 9, 2012, 3:33 pm

        At least they should represent the diversity within wonderful tapestry that Israeli Jews make. Perhaps with role playing games.

        Today we will learn about tzniut. Ashia will play a Jewish girl, and Bill and Jack will play Haredi boys. Let them sit and she should walk in front of them. Yes! Now, boys, spit — just a little, this is only a play. Why did you spit, Jack? Ahh, you will learn in a moment.

        Today we will learn about sicarii. Not all Haredi boys would spit at a little girl, but sicarii would. Long time ago Sicarii were the heroes who defended Masadah. Here is a picture of Masada. They were very brave. And a bit crazy.

  2. evets
    evets
    May 9, 2012, 2:08 pm

    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.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      May 9, 2012, 3:16 pm

      From what I hear many (most?) of those pushing for these schools want alternatives to expensive, primarily modern Orthodox, Jewish day schools.

      Several of the private foundations which advocate them say Hebrew charter schools present opportunities for “Israel Education” or “Israel Engagement” beyond hasbara.
      http://jimjosephfoundation.org/pdf/march_2012_Mapping_Field_Israel_Education.pdf
      http://www.moadonkolchadash.org/sites/moadonkolchadash.org/files/autumn_Contact.pdf

      In those schools [Orthodox, Jewish day schools] the half-day of Jewish studies combines religious subjects with a celebration of Israel.

      That’s hardly surprising, since Israel controls a parastatal public agency, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) which has an Education Department with a mission of promoting Israel Education and Engagement. It employs a Director of Market Engagement for North America in its Pedagogic Center and a staff of over 300 Shlichim in North America, working on University campuses, at Federations, in schools and Jewish Community Centers, in synagogues and with youth movements. http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishAgency/English/Jewish+Education/Educational+Shlichut/pro/

      It would be interesting to know how much this differs from other language-specific charter schools.

      I can’t think of any other public charter schools which ostensibly function as agents to educate or engage students on behalf of some specific foreign state.

  3. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    May 9, 2012, 2:41 pm

    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.

  4. sciri21
    sciri21
    May 9, 2012, 3:04 pm

    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.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    May 9, 2012, 3:52 pm

    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 of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Adelson vastly increased his net worth upon the initial public offering of Las Vegas Sands in December 2004. He is listed in the Forbes 400 as the eighth wealthiest American.[1] His personal wealth is estimated to be $24.9 billion as of March 2012.[1] . . .
    . . . Adelson donated over $25 million to the The Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas to build a high school. . .

    SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Adelson

    ALSO FROM WIKIPEDIA [The Adelson Educational Campus]:

    In 1980, the Hebrew Academy Las Vegas, opened at the original Temple Beth Sholom in East Las Vegas. Eight years later, Las Vegas businessman Milton I. Schwartz and others created the Milton I. Schwartz Hebrew Academy for elementary-aged children, the first Jewish community day school in Nevada.[citation needed]
    Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson made a major gift in November 2006, for The Adelson School in Summerlin, which grew from 145 students to 500 students today.[citation needed]
    The Adelson Educational Campus consists of three schools:
    • The Lower School provides students from 18 months through 4th grade.
    • The Middle School, grades 5–8.
    • The Upper School, grades 9–12.

    SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adelson_Educational_Campus

    • American
      American
      May 9, 2012, 4:37 pm

      ” is serving a frankly Zionist agenda.” ~ Weiss

      Yea it does. I came across a list of books that are used in these schools some time ago and posted it here….can’t remember the date.
      But they were pretty bad…Holocaust, Victims, Jewish Nationality, Superior Peoplehood, the Chosen, the whole cult thing, etc,etc,etc…..
      If zionism and Israel firstdom become any worse in the US than they are already we’re gonna have a disaster.

  6. AllenBee
    AllenBee
    May 10, 2012, 4:26 pm

    somebody ask Peter Beinart where he stands on taxpayer funding of Hebrew schools.

Leave a Reply