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MIFGASHIM  July 2003

MIFGASHIM July 2003

Subject:

MIFGASHIM

From:

Solly Kaplinski <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

MIFGASHIM LIST <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 6 Jul 2003 21:58:53 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (281 lines)

MIFGASHIM

July 6 2003
6 Tammuz 5763
Volume 2:43
Moderator: Solly Kaplinski
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education
Bar Ilan University

------------------------------------------------------------
1. Resource of the Week
Esther Feldman: Director, Information and Technology Services
The Lookstein Center

2. Focus on Current Events and Parashat Hashavuah
Chana German, Co-ordinator, Virtual Resource Center
The Lookstein Center

3. The impact of security in schools
Responses to Tzvi Lazarus
(See MIFGASHIM June 30 2003)
3.1 Howard Rosenblatt
3.2 Barbara, Canada

4. Advice and dissent or how we all became critics of Israel
Andrew Silow-Carroll
Editor in Chief: New Jersey Jewish News


-----------------------------------------------------------

CONTENTS

1. Resource of the Week
Esther Feldman: Director, Information and Technology Services
The Lookstein Center

This week's resource of the week was recommended to us by Annette Troxell,
the technology coordinator from N.E Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham,
Alabama.

This week's resource is BrainPOP, a leading producer of educational animated
movies for K-12. The company creates original animated movies to explain
concepts in a voice and visual style that is accessible, educational and
entertaining for both children and adults.

To see this week's resource, go to

http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week.htm and click on July 2003

or go directly to

http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week/july2003.htm


 -----------------------------------------------------------

2. Focus on Current Events and Parashat Hashavuah
Chana German, Co-ordinator, Virtual Resource Center
The Lookstein Center

Each week the Lookstein Center offers educators discussion points to focus
in the classroom for both the weekly Torah portion and current events in
Israel. These resources can be accessed at

http://www.lookstein.org/edu_focus_on.htm

This week: Focus on Current Events explores the rights of different
segments of the population to impose their views on another segment.

Focus on Parashat HaShavuah (Balak) asks is it appropriate to lead someone
on - to pretend you are going to do something when you really aren't
planning on doing it?

"If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go
beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. Now therefore, I
pray you, tarry you also here this night, that I may know what the Lord
will say further to me."
Bemidbar 22: 18-19


-----------------------------------------------------------
 3. The impact of security in schools
Responses to Tzvi Lazarus
(See MIFGASHIM June 30 2003)

3.1 Howard Rosenblatt

Although now I am in a Synagogue School, I have many years of experience in
both Day Schools and in Synagogue Schools. While the climate in the USA
does not approach that of Israel or even Europe, there has always been
concern for security in both Jewish and secular schools.

Prior to 9/11 the overriding security concern in schools has been for non-
custodial parents as well as other potentially unwanted intruders. In most
cases, doors have been locked to the public and signing in visitors has
been the rule. In fact Synagogues have been far more lax than Day Schools
in this area, because of the tension between wanting to be accessible to
the public and the concern for security. Jewish schools have been concerned
about matters such as mail bombs for decades, and generally have instructed
secretarial staff about proper handling of mail and problematic phone
calls.

After 9/11 and even before due to issues involving violence and intruders,
the lead was often taken by local secular schools. Many American public
school districts adopted emergency procedures, emergency packages in case
of the need to take shelter over night, and special drills. Thus the Jewish
schools are doing what secular schools are doing as well. For the kids it
may not seem like a fortress. For a few Synagogues and Day Schools signing
in and wearing a badge is new, especially the former. Most parents to whom
I have spoken feel good that there are plans and their kids are well cared
for.

9/11 has brought a sense of urgency that was reinforced by American
homeland security. However, because it is widespread in the USA, it has not
given rise to fear. Frankly, there is a bit of skepticism as to the
necessity of all of this along with some appreciation that the schools are
doing what they should.

-----------------------------

3.2 Barbara, Canada

From a parent’s perspective, I have found to my dismay that the focus on
security in my children’s school has changed the culture and the
environment completely. Previously I had almost unrestricted access to my
children's teachers and classrooms and could within reason come and go as I
please. School was a warm and welcoming palce. I also enjoyed arriving at
recess to either sit with my children in the lunchroom or watch them play
on the playground. Our school is now a fortress. I have to sign in, get a
badge and can only visit at certain hours unless there is an emergency.

I feel the professionals and Board at the school are absolutely overdoing
this in their obsession with security. I almost feel that I am unwelcome at
the school.

This state of affairs has affected my motivation as a parent and as a
volunteer. I would like to know how other parents and teachers feel about
this.

-----------------------------------------------------------

4. Advice and dissent or how we all became critics of Israel
Andrew Silow-Carroll
Editor in Chief: New Jersey Jewish News

(Moderator’s note: The following article appeared on the Jerusalem Fellows
interactive mailing list (June 14, 2003) and poses numerous questions for
students and teachers to analyse. Specifically

1. Do Jews living outside of Israel have a right to be publicly critical of
Israel?
2. Does Klal Yisrael have the same rights as those living in Israel with
regard to raising issues that may be critical of the government of the day
especially if they are contributing to UJA and therefore “paying taxes?”
3. In these times, should we be circling the wagons and protecting our most
precious asset?
4. Given that we are losing or have lost the pr. battle and media wars,
does this make it even more imperative  not to give succour to and
encourage our enemies
5. When is it appropriate if at all to adopt a “my country right or wrong
attitude”?
6. Should teachers adopt a neutral attitude when teaching/discussing the
Israeli - Palestinian conflict today?
7. Should teachers encourage a wide range of opinions in their classes?
8. Doesn’t public criticism encourage influential opinion makers who then
may influence the government of the day to be more responsive to Klal
Yisrael?
9. How sensitive does the government of the day need to be with respect to
Jews living in golah communities?
10. What does Ahavat Yisrael actually mean?
11. How does one teach it?)



I spoke recently to a group of high school juniors at a local Jewish Day
School. One of the students asked what struck me as a surprising question.
“As a Jewish journalist,” he said, “are you expected to follow a certain
party line when it comes to reporting on Israel?”

A dozen years ago I might have answered “yes.” That was just before Oslo,
and I regularly complained about the lack of real dialogue in the Jewish
community when it comes to Israel. I’d describe the internal American Jewish
discussion on Israel as “pediatric,” and suggest that thinking Jews had to
go outside the community institutions and publications for an honest,
nuanced debate on the Mideast. At a moment when community leaders had begun
to obsess about Jewish “continuity,” I’d argue that the imposition of an
artificial “consensus” was driving more and more marginal Jews off the
Jewish map entirely.

But that was before Oslo, as I say, when American Jews were in a
circle-the-wagons mode. Shamir was Prime Minister and at loggerheads with
the first Bush administration. Israel was losing the nightly p.r. battle on
the television news. Many in the pro-Israel advocacy community, led by the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee, argued that this was no time for
dissent. Even poor Woody Allen, making a rare serious statement on Jewish
values when he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times questioning Israel’s
strong-arm techniques, was lambasted as a “self-hater.” (Allen reportedly
replied that he hated himself, but being Jewish had nothing to do with it.)

Writing for and later editing a Jewish newspaper, I was subjected to a “kal
v’homer” argument: Jewish papers above all should back the Shamir government
100%, lest Israel’s enemies exploit the breach and erode Jerusalem’s
formidable support in Congress.

But much of that changed after Rabin came to power, with a platform that
reflected much of the “leftist” critique that could get one branded
anti-Israel in this country throughout much of the 70s and 80s. After the
Handshake, the “right-to-criticize-Israel” debate all but disappeared,
popping up only, of all places, in Commentary magazine, whose stable of
right-wing pundits began demanding their right to criticize Israel. After
all, they were defending Zionism; the leftists were only defending
liberalism.

One other factor also made it easier to talk and write openly about Israel
in the Jewish press: the great “Who is a Jew” debate of the mid-90s. Leaders
of American Jewish organizations and fundraising federations, the majority
of whose constituents were Reform and Conservative Jews, were outraged by
the Orthodox parties’ attempts to pass a law of conversion that would in
effect prevent Reform and Conservative converts from claiming Israeli
citizenship under the Law of Return. The anger spilled over into national
conventions and the pages of the Jewish press, often accompanied by donors’
threats to withhold their contributions to the United Jewish Appeal.

The second Intifada drove liberals underground, in effect, and they held
back in criticizing Sharon -- not out of fear that they would be seen as
disloyal, but out of a real sense of despair that their approach to the
Israeli-Palestinian process had been thoroughly discredited.

Slowly, however, as the Intifada grinds on and the diplomatic process has
shown some signs of life, the full range of views on Israel’s future are
coming into play again. The deep splits within Israeli society — over
concessions, the settlements, and a Palestinian state — have given cover to
all sides on the debate. (With the leftist Ha’aretz now available on the Web
in English translation, American Jews have an alternative, or at least a
supplement to, the right-wing Jerusalem Post, and more access to the full
range of Israeli views.) It’s hard to be labeled a self-hater when you can
point to a plurality of Israelis who agree with you. And when Sharon talks
openly about the need for a Palestinians state and uses the once verboten
word “occupation,” it’s hard to define, let alone write outside of, a
“consensus.”

Today, those Jews who take heat for criticizing Israel are on the margins
and seem happy to stay there, accusing Israel of war crimes or embracing a
Palestinian “right of return,” a nonstarter for American Jews of all
political stripes. Whether the process begun at Oslo pointed the way toward
a safer Israel remains to be seen. But it made for a safer public arena for
American Jewish dialogue on Israel.

Still, I puzzle over that student’s question. That he even would suggest
that there remained a “party line” made me wonder about how Israel was being
taught in his school. I can only hope that his teachers were instilling not
only “Ahavat Yisrael” but also a respect for the range of opinions
concerning the future of the Jewish State. The two are not mutually
exclusive. In fact, I’d argue that one is a prerequisite for the other.


-----------------------------------------------------------

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

The Mifgashim List is a project of
The Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora
The School of Education, Bar Ilan University

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The website is supported, in part, by a generous grant from the
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