Jews throughout the world look upon Israel with pride as the world’s only Jewish state and the Middle East’s only democracy. Its founders envisioned a homeland for Jews from all over the world in which the Jewish and democratic traditions would nourish, enrich and strengthen each other. But in today’s supercharged political and social atmosphere, the two value systems are increasingly seen as contradictory. The tensions and divisions between secular and religious Israelis, which have existed since the establishment of the State, are now taking the form of a “battle” between Democracy and Judaism.
While Civics is a mandatory subject in all Israeli High schools, both teachers and students were dissatisfied with the way it was taught. The Ministry of Education requested Gesher to revamp the Civics curriculum and transform the way it was being taught. Gesher launched a program to provide training for high-school Civics teachers throughout Israel, using an innovative new Civics textbook and augmented by an interactive website developed by Gesher.
As the curriculum is used by all sectors of Israeli society, Gesher views Civics teaching as a unique opportunity to forge a shared Jewish and Israeli identity for our youth, despite ideological differences. This is an unprecedented opportunity to make a system-wide impact and transform the future of Israel, giving youth the tools they need to understand Israeli’s system of government and civic life, and also to appreciate Israel's unique status as the State of the Jewish people and a model of democracy.
The 200 teachers trained this year will reach approximately 25,000 10th and 11th graders and provide them with a comprehensive Civics program that is meaningful and relevant to their day-to-day lives.