Israeli curriculum to reflect more Mizrahi culture

The poet Erez Biton is to head a new committee set up by the Israeli Education Ministry to recommend  material reflecting the richness of Mizrahi culture to add to the national curriculum. Ynet News reports (with thanks Sarah):


Erez Biton: committee head

The Education
Ministry has decided to take action after years of criticism regarding
the fact that school curricula focus on European culture and ignore
non-European Jews whose origins lie in the Middle East, North Africa,
and other Muslim-majority areas (known as Mizrahi Jews). Education
Minister Naftali Bennett recently appointed a public committee that is
to make recommendations on adding new material to reflect the cultural
richness and history of Jews who came from Muslim-majority countries.

The committee, headed by poet and Israel Prize winner Erez Biton, is
to examine the existing curricula in history and literature, then make
recommendations after three months to integrate Mizrahi culture and
history. The committee plans to get assistance from various
organizations and experts that deal with the subject, including umbrella
organizations for immigrants from Muslim-majority countries,
historians, literary and cultural researchers, and more. 

 “This is a historic move,” Minister Bennett said on Wednesday. “Today
we are correcting a years-long injustice. The richness of eastern culture
is a gift whose splendor the educational system failed to appreciate to
this day, and apparently we still do not know what we do not know about
this incredible culture. Israel, which is a gathering of exiles from
around the world, must live with this cultural richness and not minimize
it. I am certain that the Biton Committee, headed by the wonderful poet
recruited for the mission, will be able to bring historic information
to the students of Israel and stimulate a dialogue welcomed by the

Jerusalem Post 

Blind Algerian-born poet wins Israel Prize

Israel is not a milkshake, Mizrahim are not the Other


  • What in the world is wrong with Israel that it takes them until 2016 to make this important inclusion in the curriculum. I've been educating myself about the global Jewish experience since I'm a child….I used to subscribe to a Jewish magazine in Hebrew School called World Over which had excellent articles on Jews and the Jewish experience everywhere. I used to take out records from the NYC public Library….recordings of Yemeni, Bukharan, Moroccan Jewish music.
    I still am disappointed that when I was last in Israel the radio still doesn't play much music from the Mizrahi community.
    Altho there is more and more food that represents Jews from Mid East diaspora. Unfortunately there are no good examples of the Ashkenazi styles of cooking. Doesn't look like the Hassidim care very much about food. Someone should pull out Claudia Roden's excellent book of Jewish Cooking and open such a restaurant. Even in Israel, there could be good Jewish cooking. If someone cared.

  • just to credit to those who deserve it, Dr Yits'haq Kerem was working for years trying to persuade officials in the Ministry of Education to make changes such as Minister Bennett has lately called for. He told me that on the occasions when he met the relevant officials, they listened politely for the most part, but seemed incapable of understanding what he was saying and why it was right. I met him years before Bennett became the minister.


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