Monday, July 6, 2009

What values are we teaching our kids?

My eldest son just graduated Grade 6, finishing his primary school education. In a few months אי”ה he’ll be learning in the Yeshiva here in Modi’in.

Like most schools, his school marked the end of the year with a “Misibat Siyum” including a play that the kids put a lot of effort into it. I thought that overall the Misibat Siyim was done very well, not just in terms of the professionalism that went into the play, but the values that they were presenting.

The theme of the play was “Bshvil Yisrael” meaning both “In the Path of Israel”, and “For the sake of Israel”. The play revolved around a group of Olim Chadashim arriving from all over the world and exploring Israel together, seeing both the sites in the country and learning history or values at each stop.

They had scenes showing The Galil, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat, and they learnt about Zionism, cooperation, Chessed, and other values.

While watching the play, I was very impressed by how Israeli and Jewish values seemed to be a natural part of these kids life and schooling.

The only complaint or criticism of the play was that it went very late (especially for those of us who had small kids there).

In contrast, a parent from the Keshet State (non-religious) school in Modi’in just posted a message to the Modi'in list saying how disappointed she was with her son’s Misibat Siyum. She describes their end of year as follows:

I found the end of year show ("misibat sium") to be inappropriate for 12 year olds, with a theme to the dances and songs about romantic love. In one scene, one of the more developed girls wore an adult red dress and make-up, strutted by a ladder of 4 boys dressed as workers, and got whistled at until one of the boys jumped down to dance with her. In another, the kids danced to a song made of ICQ sounds. They mimed chatting with friends in the dance, but they were paired boy-girl; so instead of "friends getting together online", it looked like "online dating".
When I complained to the parents' committee, they said that I was making too much of it, that I was the only one who saw it this way, and that there must be something wrong with me if I saw it as inappropriate.

I'm not religious, and I didn't appreciate the personal remarks on my own style of dress or opinions on my psyche. But I don't think one has to be religious to feel that there is more to life at 12 or 13 than dating.

I wasn’t at the Keshet Misibat Siyum, and have no idea how accurate the above description is, but to me it seems that segments of our society are moving further and further away from any meaningful values at all -

I understand if a school is not religious and doesn’t want to emphasize Torah and Mitzvot in their value system, but are there no Jewish or Zionist values that these kids could be taught other than dating?

Is this lack of values really the fulfilment of the Zionist dream of the country’s founders?

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