The secular school system used to pride itself on the level of Jewish education it provided. Unlike today, Judaism was not equated with religious belief. Rather, to be Jewish was to be part of the Jewish nation, and studying Judaism was to learn one’s own heritage, history, and to understand what makes us a nation, and not just a bunch of people who have shared memories of persecution in foreign countries. High school graduates knew the Bible backwards and forwards, knew our people’s history, and were taught not by “‘religious” teachers, but rather, by liberated teachers who loved the Bible very deeply as the Jewish people’s most important cultural and literary work.”
Things have changed significantly since, and not for the better. Paritzki’s implicit criticism of Zevulun Hammer, valid though it may be, is a political issue and the situation today calls for a solution, not for arguments over recent political history.
Being Jewish is not based solely on the belief in a religious doctrine. It is being a part of an ancient tradition, being part of a nation being rebuilt in its homeland. We should know who we are and we where come from, whether or not we think we are standing in front of anyone.
I might never repeat these words, but Paritzki is right. “The Education Ministry must go back to the glory days and maintain the many forms of Jewish culture studies in Israel. Israelis are allowed not to believe, but they should be familiar with what they choose not to believe in.” I’m tempted to try and correct him, that Jews, not just Israelis, are allowed not to believe, but is we are closer to a day where the word Jew is synonymous with the word Israeli, that that’s alright with me.