Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Should All Be Schooled in Tolerance

Shalom Yeladim from Grades 4, 5 & 6:

I don't usually speak to specific grades, but this time I've got a problem that I want to share with you.

The school year started in Israel and schools opened as usual – that is, most schools. Many parents of children attending the Ner Etzion school in the city of Petach Tikva refused to let the school doors open. Why? Because this school is located in a neighborhood where everybody comes from Ethiopia and a lot of these parents want their children to be integrated into schools outside their neighborhood, attended by all types of Israelis.

Here's the thing – not all parents sending their children to Ner Etzion agree to send them to other schools. There are some who want their children to stay together in this school because they feel it is easier to learn in a place where everyone is alike – physically, financially and with the same educational background.

What should an Ethiopian parent in Israel do? What should the schools do? It's a tough choice with no simple answers, but maybe you can find some creative solutions.

Here's what I want you to do. First of all, learn all about Ethiopian Jews -- their history and how they came to Israel. Teachers, you can use this link to help you.

Next, I want you to divide up into groups with some of you pretending you are Ethiopians and the rest of you being you, Jews living in the United States, Canada, England and Australia. The Ethiopian children want to be part of your class but they are so different from you. Be honest. Would you accept them as equals? Invite them to your house? Go paint-balling with them? Help them with their school work? How can you help them feel that they're just like you? Because I'm going to be honest with you – I feel that all of us have to stick to the principal Kohl Yisrael Areivim Zeh La'ZehAll Jews must help and care for each other.

Once you come up with some ideas, write and tell me so that I can pass them on to friends over here in Israel.

Toda Raba...Zvuvi

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