Yavne, Israel — In the religious junior high school of this development town of 25,000 an hour south of Tel Aviv, an educational miracle is taking place with Ethiopian Jewish children. Long neglected by Israel’s education establishment, and against seemingly insurmountable odds, Ethiopian teens are soaring up the learning curve.
‘If I got what I deserved, I’d be dead.” With those words, a 21-year-old who just graduated from the Yatzkan Center, a 10-month residential drug treatment program in Amityville, L.I., told a group of 35 Jewish teenagers how drugs had destroyed the past seven years of his life.
“Now I have to spend the next two years trying to get back to where I should have been,” he told the group. “I’m lucky; I can’t tell you how many of my friends have died.”
If you thought Rabbi Joseph Lookstein was a revolutionary in the creation of the 20th century day school, his eponymous Web site aims to change the Jewish 21st century school as much as the talkies changed the movies.
Bar Ilan Universityís Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora (www.lookstein.biu.ac.il), named for its late chancellor who also founded New Yorkís Ramaz School, has taken upon itself to become an Internet-based international clearing house of new educational ideas, facilitating interaction among principals, teachers and parents.
Providing perhaps the most compelling evidence to date of the Jewish community's growing embrace of the day school movement, a national census reveals that non-Orthodox parents are enrolling their children in unprecedented numbers, though eight in 10 students are still Orthodox.
Displaying a new independence after losing its Israeli affiliate, World ORT has suddenly tripled the amount of money it is giving to Israeli students — bypassing ORT Israel’s highly respected network of private schools that broke away last fall.
World ORT announced this week that it plans to send nearly $9 million to Israeli public schools in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Education. It is to be used to improve science and technology education in Israel, which the organization said it considers the basic foundation of the Israeli school system.
One year after more than half of yeshiva fourth-graders failed to pass the state standardized English tests, Jewish day schools rebounded strongly in 2000.Though the official scores have not yet been released by the state Department of Education, 65 percent of students are reported to have passed, up from 48.6 percent in 1999, according to the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York.
Gov. George Pataki proposed Tuesday a $500 per student tax credit to be used for instructional purposes by families who live in school districts identified as "failing" by the federal government, a proposal hailed by both the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations and Agudath Israel of America.
"This is an historic first step for New York State," said an Agudah statement.
It was an incident that made headlines around the world: a cinderblock was thrown through the bedroom window of 5-year-old Isaac Schnitzer in Billings, Mont., in December, 1993, to protest the family's window display of a menorah and other Jewish symbols.