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August 19, 1977 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-08-19

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THE DETROIT JEWISH. NEWS Friday, August 19, 1977 41

Illiteracy: The Problem Israel Rarely Talks About

JERUSALEM—Israel's educational institution, are
Jewish community has the regularly absent and can be
highest rate of illiteracy in found idle or walking about
the Jewish world. the streets, or being picked
About 37 percent of Is- up by the police for juve-
raeli adults have less than nile offenses.
About 10-15 percent of the
, an eighth grade education.
About 14 percent have less new recruits in the armed
than a fourth grade educa- forces are practically illiter-
tion, and close to 8 percent ate, despite having corn-
have never been to school, pleted eight or 10 years of
wrikes Aharon Megged in schooling.
There are entire commu-
'7 the Jerusalem Post.
Today, 100 years after the nities, particularly in the de-
- first modern Jewish settle- velopment towns, poor
ment and 30 years after the neighborhoods, and immi-
establishment of the state, grant moshavim where ap-
the illiteracy rate among proximately one-third of the
the large Jewish commu- population is illiterate.
The most alarming fact is
nities in the world — North
America, that these figures are not
- -'\
ace, Britain and the based only on the gener-
USSR — is nought or prac- ation of immigrants which
came en masse to Israel
tically non-existent.
However, in Israel, envis- from the ghettos and caves
aged as the "spiritual cen- to North Africa and had no
ter" of the Jewish world by time to get and education
Ahad Ha'am, and as a in the transit camps.
The problem here is "he-
"light to the nations" by
Ben-Gurion, one seventh of reditary ignorance" which,
the population has less than like certain illnesses, is
an eighth grade education passed to succeeding gener-
ations. We find parents and
or its equivalent.
According to the 1970 edi- children who cannot add a
tion of the Encyclopaedia row of figures or write a
Britannica, the illiteracy simple Hebrew sentence.
rafe,in the U.S. and Canada Why has so little been ac-
is 3-4 percent, in North and complished? In the mid-
Central Europe 1-2 percent, 19605, groups of women sol-
and in the Soviet Union 5-10 diers and individuals were
percent. It would seem that sent to development areas
Israel is beginning to re- to teach the adults who
semble the Third World as needed it the rudiments of
opposed to the Western reading, writing, arithmet-
world in this respect. ic, geography, and personal
Avraham Zviyon, the hygiene.
This attempt failed and
head of the Department of
Adult Education, gives an was discontinued after two
answer, which is not too re- or three years, because the
assuring. young soldiers were not ade-
In Israel, about 37.8 per- quately trained to deal with
cent of the women and such complicated problems
about 23 percent of the men as differences in mentality,
of African and Asian origin psychological disturbance,
have less than a fourth motivation, etc.
Nor did they have the nec-
grade education or its equiv-
alent; about 20,000 primary essary equipment: suitable
school pupils, who are re- textbooks, special teaching
quired by law to attend an programs, organized lesson

Mizrachi Women Elect President

LOS ANGELES—Sarah section of Jerusalem.
Shane, president of Arne&
Child Haven will combine
can Mizrachi Women, has a residential school for
been re-elected for another very young children from
probleni homes and a day
two-year term.
Upon accepting her re- care center for the children
election at the AMW 52nd of new immigrant and
national convention in Los young working parents in
Angeles, Mrs. Shane an- Gilo.
The 300 delegates at the
nounced plans for the con-
struction of a new child convention made $500,000.
care facility — Beit HaY- in advance pledges to go to-
eled/Child Haven — which ward the construction of
will be built in the new Gilo Child Haven.

Fishman Winners in Israel

plans, and so on. And their
enthusiasm was not
matched by their students.
Further attempts to solve
the illiteracy problem have
met the following ob-
stacles: apathy among po-
tential students, lack of
qualified personnel willing
to teach adults, lack of suit-
able teaching materials,
and chronic shortage of
The Jewish "ideal of edu-
cation" has disappeared in
Israel. It is wrong to think
that illiteracy is merely a
result of poverty or mate-
rial deprivation. Many in
the "Oriental" communities
who have succeeded finan-
cially prefer to set their
children up in a profitable
business rather than have
them spend years in in-
stitutions of secondary and
higher education for ques-
tionable financial rewards. .
Israeli Arabs, on the
other hand, have adopted
the traditional Jewish ideal
of education.
Arab farmers and wage-
earners, who are not in a
better financial situation
than many of their Jewish
neighbors, are sending their
children to study to become
teachers, lawyers, doctors,
engineers, and so forth, and
the number of Arab stu-
dents in Israeli and foreign
universities is steadily in-
The number of second
and third generation Jewish
students of Oriental origin,
however, is not increasing
There are favorable statis-
tics as well: Israel has a
large number of academ-
ics; more than 50,000 univer-
sity students; world-re-
stitutions; impressive
achievements in agricul-
ture, industry, technology,
research and development;
perhaps the highest per ca-
pita rate of books published
and read; and high cinema,
theatre, and concert attend-'
Not to mention the num-
ber of people involved in
the creative arts, the resur-
rection of the Hebrew lan-
guage and Hebrew educa-
tion are also in evidence.
This paradox provides evi-
dence of the unreliability of
cultural statistics. But
there is an inverted cultural
pyramid whose base is con-
stantly weakening. It can
be seen every day as the
low quality of Israeli life is
compared to the grand sum-
mits of Israeli cultural
However, a highly suc-
cessful five-day seminar
was held recently at Jerusa-
lem's Holyland Hotel by

Rachel Inbar, an active and
unconventional educator
and teacher, and the editor
of the newspaper Lamathil.
The participants were 60
women, aged between 35
and 55, all of them mothers
of large families who have
been living and working for
the past 20 years—since
their arrival from Morocco,
Yemen, Tunisia, and Kurdis-
tan—in various moshavim
in the Negev.
They had taken part in
various primary programs
during the past 10 years,
but had barely reached
fourth or fifth grade level
in any of the basic educa-
tional skills.
The seminar's intensive
daily program included
reading and writing drills
(with special texts), prac-
tical arithmetic necessary
for budgeting a household
successfully and becoming
a careful consumer, dis-
cussions and conversations
on current events and the
mass media, guidance in
creative play and children's
Also, excerpts from the
Bible, questions and an-
swers about health and re-
lated fields, home decora-
ting, baking, party plan-
ning, cosmetics, field trips,
and meetings with famous
"It was like therapy,"
says Rachel. "I myself was
overwhelmed. They were
born again."
The results of this experi-
ment are very encouraging.


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until there are hundreds of
teachers to fight the war
against illiteracy.

The Department of Adult
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The five Fishman scholarship Winners who are currently
in Israel are shown with Meyer Fishman, at left, and Nath-
an Fishman. Shown are, from left, Dana Baruch of Cong.
Shaarey Zedek, Elisa Ginter of Temple Israel, Eve Reider
of Shaarey Zedek, Cheryl Singer of Temple Israel and
Cara Wilner of Temple Beth El. The five will'be returning
soon from their summer trips to Israel. The five were se-
lected last spring in the third year of the Fishman
Awards, which are designed "to encourage committed Jew-
ish high school students by enabling them to spend a sum-
mer in Israel."


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