Religious Encounters in Israeli State Education


Source: Religious Education (2017) 


The federal model of the Israeli state education system does not augur well for religious encounters in Israeli schools. The fact that on the one hand, religious and heritage education is a mandatory core subject for all sectors in the Israeli state education system, but on the other, each sector maintains a unique sectorial ideology regarding the understanding of what religious and heritage education should convey to the students, leads to an inherent diffculty to contemplate or organize interfaith or intersector religious encounters. The declared policy of the Israeli Ministry of Education, according to which all schools are required to educate toward the enhancement of social cohesion and a broadly common perception of constructive values and citizenship (Ministry of Education, 1996), recognizes the diffculty of conducting interfaith encounters at the school level.

As a result of understanding that interfaith encounters are apparent nonstarters, the Ministry openly encourages inter-sector school encounters, where ideas leading to the development of common values necessary for the positive development of Israeli society are discussed. Yablon and Katz (2009) indicated how interschool encounters where common values such as common citizenship, equality within society and intergroup tolerance are seriously discussed by students are far more realistic, feasible, and successful in the federal Israeli school system. In summary one might say that while religious encounters do not feature in Israeli schools, citizenship education encounters are a definite priority on the Israeli educational agenda in the hope that these encounters will lead to positive intergroup interaction and understanding and, perhaps, in the future to interschool discussions and deliberations on religion and interfaith ecumenism.

Updated: Jun. 26, 2017