What Did the Teacher Say Today? State Religious Kindergarten Teachers Deal With Complex Torah Stories

Summer, 2013

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 79, Issue 3, pages 256-296


Stories are the focus of this article by Sigal Achituv, which deals with the way in which kindergarten teachers in state religious kindergartens tell Torah stories to young children. It is part of a large study dealing with the ethical identity of kindergarten teachers in state religious kindergartens in Israel. Because this identity is built out of the dialectic relationship between the individuals and the communities in which they act, Achituv is able to show what can be learned about the tension and complexity that exists in religious Zionist society in general.


Torah stories in kindergarten are placed at a crossroads of educational approaches and perceptions of religious commitment. While telling the story, the teacher deals simultaneously with educational, hermeneutical, religious, and cultural issues. Achituv’s article explores ethical choices of kindergarten teachers in the state religious education system in Israel. She presents the educational quandary faced by the kindergarten teacher: the basic dilemma between the traditional approach and the constructivist approach within the context of value-based education. This dilemma is most pointedly expressed in situations in which the kindergarten teacher tells Torah stories which, according to the teacher's ethical perception, possess a dimension of sanctity. The kindergarten teacher's decision also embodies an expression of her perception regarding Bible stories, as the product of the religious Zionist society and modern orthodoxy in general.

Updated: Sep. 30, 2013