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April 24, 1992 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-04-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

UP FRONT

Growing Up Fast

For high school seniors in Israel, the pressure to
do well on the grueling matriculation exams, the
`bagrut,' can be enormous.

LARRY DERFNER

Israeli Correspondent

T

he suicide victim left a
cynical note to his
friends: "You've got
nothing to be sad about. No
doubt the history test will be
cancelled now."
The boy was 17 years old, a
high-school student in the
upper-middle-class Carmel
section of Haifa. He went to
the school grounds one night
last month and hanged
himself from an exercise
ladder.
His mother couldn't
understand it. She told
reporters: "This is a boy
whose average in the ma-
triculation exams, up to
now, was 80. He got 86 and
87 in language and oral ex-
pression. This is a successful
boy, a good, polite boy."
One of his best friends,
though, said the victim had
recently received a 45 in
mathematics and had been
falling off in other subjects.
"As far as I can tell," said
the friend, "the pressure at
school suffocated him com-
pletely."

A few days later, at one of
the best schools in Tel Aviv,
Shaul Levine High in the
heart of the wealthy nor-
thside, Haya Rogev, a 22-
year veteran geography
teacher, dismissed the
significance of the suicide. "I
don't know the cir-
cumstances, but I'm sure he
had personal problems, and
if he didn't commit suicide

The test
determines
whether students
go to a university
and whether they
can study in their
chosen field.

now, he would have done it
in the army, or later. Most of
the students do cope. My
high school graduating class
did the matriculation tests
in 1967 when there was a
war on, and nobody corn-
mitted suicide."
The students at Shaul
Levine, however, reacted to
the suicide differently, ac-
cording to a group of seniors

on their way home from
class. Said one: "Nobody
here was surprised."
Across Israel, high school
seniors at this time of year
enter the most stressful,
high-pressure period of their
young lives. For many, the
Passover break is not a vaca-
tion; they are studying day
and night for the grueling
matriculation, or bagrut, ex-
ams.
"I study until 4 in the
morning," said one Shaul
Levine senior. "That's when
I wake up to begin study-
ing," said another.
This battery of tests in
major subjects, which takes
a total of 20-30 hours, de-
termines, along with a
"psychometric" test of
academic ability, whether
students go to university,
and whether they can study
in their chosen field.
They take the tests from
mid-May to early July. A few
weeks to a few months after
that, they are inducted into
the army —boys for three
years, girls for two. Most
boys, including most of the
high-achievers who pull all-
nighters for the bagrut, want

Artwork from Newsday by Anthony D'Adarno. Copyright 0 1989, Newsday.
Distributed by Los Angeles Twnes Syndicate.

to get into elite army units,
such as commandos,
paratroopers or pilots. They
have to pass tests to get ac-
cepted there, too.
Isn't this a little too much
to ask of youngsters turning
18? If the state has no choice
but to send them into the
army, must it also put them
through academic hell just
before they go in?
"There is a continuing con-

filet over this issue," says
Dr. Shlomo Ben-Eliahu, di-
rector of high school instruc-
tion for the Ministry of Edu-
cation. "Those in favor of the
bagrut say it's a unified
standard that proves how
much students have learned.
Those against say it creates
too much tension for the
students and causes teachers
and students to focus all
their efforts towards produc-

such missives — via fax —
from Israel.
Here's the really impor-
tant information the Agency
thought necessary to fax:
1) A farewell letter from
the outgoing head of the
Jewish Agency's press divi-
sion.
2) A letter of introduction
from the incoming head of
the Jewish Agency's press
division.
3) A report from Jewish
Agency President Simcha
Dinitz about his recent "fact-
finding mission" to the the
new Commonwealth of In-
dependent States (sent
twice).
4) An update on the
number of immigrants to
Israel from the former Soviet
Union (sent twice).
The Jewish Agency is
among the major recipients
of the United Jewish Appeal
and, therefore, Detroit's
Allied Jewish Campaign.
Each fax to and from Israel
costs $2.98 for the first
minute and $1.20 for each
additional minute.

Ancient Skeletons
Found Near Haifa
Tel Aviv (JTA) — Three
human skeletons estimated
to be 7,000 years old have
been recovered from the
seabed on the coast south of
Haifa.
They are the oldest
skeletons yet discovered in
Israel and would seem to in-
dicate the existence of a
village at the site in the fifth
millennium BCE.
The Neolithic inhabitants
apparently engaged in
fishing as well as hunting
and gathering, according to
Ehud Galili, an archae-
ologist employed by the
government's Antiquities
Authority to retrieve the
bones from the sea.
He said the remains were
exposed by the severe winter
storms which washed away
the sand and silt that had
covered them on the sea
bottom.

ROUND UP

The Wild Kingdom
Goes Kosher
"Let's go surfin' now,
everybody's surfin' now,
come on a safari with me,
kosher safari, yeah. . ."
Dig this, daddy-O! Now
you can be Shomer Shabbat,
kosher and a Big Man of the
Wild all at once with the Jet
Viaggi Kenya safari!
Based in Italy (and with an
office in New York), Jet
Viaggi 3000 is offering
"Immanuel and Gedalia:
The World a New Way"
beginning this summer. (The
tour is named for the agency
president and coordinations
director).
"For the first time,
Shomer Shabbat travelers
will be able to explore the
world's most exotic places
with the assurance that
lifestyle will not be com-
promised," a Jet Viaggi
press release promises.
The 11- or 18-day safaris
include trips to Mount
Kenya and other national
parks where visitors will see

Some wild and crazy guys on the
Jet Viaggi tour.

dozens of endangered
animals. Shabbat will be
spent in Nairobi, where a
small Jewish community
dating back to British colo-
nial days still lives. The
Nairobi synagogue was built
in 1904.
Rabbi Moshe-Boruch
Charles, chief rabbi of
Kenya, will serve as
mashgiach for the tour.
Meals, which will reflect the
native cuisine of Africa, will
be glatt kosher.
For information, call Jet
Viaggi at 1-800-22-KENYA
(53692). And bring back lots
of souvenirs, please.

Uruguay Creates
Holocaust Memorial
The government of
Uruguay this month made a
commitment to construct a
memorial commemorating
the Holocaust — the first
such official memorial to be
situated in a public place in
any Latin American coun-
try.
The Uruguayan resolution
calling for the establishment
of the memorial describes
the Holocaust as "the major
tragedy in history, a symbol
of all genocide known by
mankind, and a tragedy that
must be remembered by all
people."

Whole Lotta
PR Going On
Pass the bucks and pass
out the public relations.
The Jewish Agency for
Israel has won our award for
the most press releases in a
single bound. In the space of
one week, the Jewish Agen-
cy sent The Jewish News six

Compiled by
Elizabeth Applebaum

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

11

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