Source: Gleanings, Spring 2014
Complexity has become such a buzzword in Israel education that it's in danger of losing its meaning. In this essay, I'm going to present a "typology" of complexity that will help us as a field to become more sophisticated in our interpretation and use of the term In preparing this paper, I searched the websites of five major organizations that deal with Israel education, The David Project, The iCenter, Makom, Shalom Hartman Institute, and Encounter, for the terms complex or complexity in order to examine their usage. I present my findings and analysis below.
My own approach to Israel's complexity has something of the attractive, the anguished, and the analytic, but I would add a further layer. For me, complexity on its own is never enough. It must always be a springboard for discussion, conversation, respectful argument, and ultimately, action. Once you understand Israel's complexities, it's only the beginning of the job. It's your role as an engaged Diaspora Jew to articulate your own opinion on the complex issues at hand, and take action. The act of articulation itself, I contend, enriches identity and relationship with Israel. I therefore call my own approach to complexity "activist complexity."
Advocacy complexity; ambivalent complexity; attractive complexity; anguished complexity; analytic complexity; and activist complexity. This typology can help us become more sophisticated readers of curricula, blogs, and educational visions in which the term is used. I'll be doing more work on this typology in the months ahead; but for now, let me leave you with a couple of questions: Which kind of complexity speaks to you? Which feels right for your own philosophy of Israel education? These are the kinds of questions we encourage Kesher Hadash students to explore during their time in Israel; and they're questions that I'd encourage us all to consider.