Sunday-Tuesday, September 19-21, 2010
These past couple days have been all about visiting potential placements and Ulpan. I went to four sites: The Holland Center (preschool for kids with special needs), Ironi Zayin (an afterschool program for highschoolers), Ironi Chet (a religious Jewish boy’s high school), and the Daniel Kindergarten (a Jewish public school right next door to us.) I wasn’t really feeling the Holland Center, even though it is an amazing place, but I want to work at Ironi Zayin incredibly badly. They are doing absolutely amazing things at that program, and it is definitely my top choice. Unfortunately, they don’t have many spaces and it’s a lot of people’s top choice. So I don’t know how that’s going to go. I wasn’t mad about Ironi Chet – too much religion, too few girls, I think, but I really liked the Daniel kindergarten. They are doing a lot of coexistence work and trying to help their Jewish and Arab students get to the same level.
At the kindergarten meeting, we talked a lot about the public school system in Israel. What I understand is that there are three “streams” of public schools: Jewish, Religious Jewish (orthodox) and Arab. My impression is that the difference between Jewish and Arab is more about the racial makeup of the teachers and the language spoken, and less about the population. Many Arab children go to Jewish schools for a better education, the way many non-Catholics go to Catholic schools in the states. The Daniel school is a Jewish school but has a high percentage of Arabs from Yafo, because they can offer a better education, and Hebrew fluency, which is needed for any higher level of learning or living. However, as you might expect, Jewish children never go to Arab schools.
After this meeting, Hannah and I had a long talk about this state-sponsored segregation, starting from kindergarten. It seems to us to be only a slightly better form of “separate but equal,” (better because Arab children can attend Jewish schools if they want/can do it logistically/can get in) which is obviously incredibly divisive. The schools aren’t even requiring them to become fluent in the other language. We think that if all schools were integrated and bilingual, it would do a lot to lessen the conflict and heal the upcoming generation of this country’s wounds. If all Jewish kids went to school and were in classes with Muslim and Christian kids, if they all were fluent in Hebrew and Arabic (and English), if they all really went to coexistence schools every day, that would be huge. It struck us that there is so much more that the government could be doing to end or lessen the conflict, but they just aren’t. It made us (sorry for putting feelings in your mouth Hannah) incredibly frustrated, because everyone is talking about how they want peace and all of that, but they aren’t doing everything they can!