Jerusalem’s top rabbis, educators to face Trump administration
Posted On August 5, 2021
The top rabbinical authorities of the Jewish state are set to face a Trump administration that is already in a tough spot.
In a sign of how serious the administration is about revamping the religious eduction system, the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the main rabbinic body for Israeli Jews, is set to vote on Monday on a resolution that would require all new curricula to be “exclusively and fully secular.”
The measure comes at a time when American Jews are increasingly being asked to reconsider how to teach about the Holocaust.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, head of the Rabbis for Human Rights, said the vote “has a lot to do with the president’s rhetoric” and could have a “severe impact” on religious education in the United States.
Trump is known to be sympathetic to the religious right.
He recently suggested that the Holocaust could be the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” even going so far as to retweet a tweet from anti-Semitic right-wing site Daily Stormer that read: “This is a great time to start remembering the Holocaust.”
Trump, who was elected in 2016 on a platform of bringing back religion to the United State, has been a vocal supporter of the religious community.
He is now slated to nominate another prominent rabbis to lead the religious education department, with the appointment likely to be announced as early as Monday.
The religious edutation system, also known as the “biblical education system,” was established in Israel after the Nakba, the Jewish genocide that followed the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
The system was largely abandoned after the country’s 1967 War of Independence, when the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the creation of a Jewish state.
After the countrys 1948 Independence, the U.N. mandated the creation in the country of a new educational system based on biblical principles.
In the decades that followed, the system became known as “the Torah.”
The current curriculum, which is also called the “Israel curriculum,” was created in the 1990s to accommodate students in the ultra-Orthodox community.
It was introduced by a new head of government and is widely regarded as one of the most rigorous in the world.
In the past year, a series of controversial incidents have cast doubt on the system’s effectiveness.
In May, a video surfaced of an Israeli rabbi who called the Holocaust a hoax, sparking an uproar that saw his name removed from the curriculum.
In June, The Times of Israel published an article alleging that the new curriculum contained “inaccuracies” and was biased toward the Zionist movement.
That prompted Rabbi Uri Eshmon, the head of Knesset Education and Culture Committee, to call the proposal “a new form of anti-Semitism” and a “dangerous form of Islamophobia.”
In September, the Education Ministry announced that it was canceling a plan to send a large number of new Hebrew textbooks to the Jewish community.
The ministry said it would instead begin teaching in Hebrew, and that it would provide “new materials and a new curriculum in Hebrew that is secular in character, based on the lessons in the Hebrew Bible.”