The Zionist Conspiracy

A clandestine undertaking on behalf of Israel, the Jets and the Jews.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Jewish Education and Current Events

Over at Cross-Currents, Mark Bane wonders whether Orthodox Jewish children will be equipped to deal with the threats to Israel from an Iran with a nuclear bomb.

Bane notes that "for decades, American Jewish children have been raised in an environment of carefree security." He points out that even the Holocaust faded "into a study of history, rather than a contemporary Jewish experience." As a result, he writes, "the personality of the American Orthodox child reflects a secure, and almost brazen, attitude in confronting life in secular America."

Now, Bane writes, "every Jewish parent and teacher must consider whether today’s children will be entering a world that they have been ill prepared to encounter." He asks, "what educational devices need be introduced to prepare our children for this possible new (albeit ancient) world?"

The truth is that in many yeshivas - including those that I attended - the study of Jewish history and Jewish contemporary issues was almost completely ignored. At times rabbis and teachers would bring this issue up, but there were no formal courses on subjects like Jewish history, the Holocaust, Zionism, the State of Israel, anti-Semitism, or political and social issues facing Jews.

When I went to Brooklyn College, I was elated to learn that there actually were people who seriously thought about these issues. I learned more about the Holocaust in a short mandatory summer history course that dealt with the Holocaust for less than a week that I had in all of my years in yeshiva. I learned about pre-state Zionism and the formation of Israel, and a little about European anti-Semitism.

Ultimately, though I majored in Judaic Studies and have done some additional reading on related subjects since college, I would consider my knowledge of these issues to be modest at best. Alas, almost everyone else that I know has far less knowledge of these issues than me.

If yeshivas want to educate children about the challenges from Iran, they will have to start by accepting that spending a little less time on Talmud and devoting that time to study of Jewish history and contemporary Jewish issues and events would be worthwhile and not bittul Torah.