Reducing Religious Indoctrination in Israel’s Schools

13 July 2017

Israel’s Education Ministry has agreed with the criticisms of the Secular Forum which found that school textbooks designed for Israel’s secular state schools contained religious indoctrination.

Many of the books will now be revised.

Supported by a grant from NIF, the Secular Forum volunteers reviewed 80 books used in grades one through six at Israeli elementary schools. In one book about family life, drawings showed a secular family, “the Goldbergs,” behaving aggressively and always arguing, while a religious family, “the Levys,” were considerate and sensitive to each other’s needs. Another book spoke about the importance of building the Third Temple.

“We are against religious indoctrination, not against Judaism,” explained Osnat Sivron of the Secular Forum’s steering committee who coordinated the project with a team of volunteers who examined their children’s textbooks.

The Education Ministry claims that the books being revised are “old” but most of them, according to the Secular Forum, were written in the past decade. “There are over 2,000 books and our volunteers will continue checking them,” said Sivron, “and we will follow up to ensure that the Education Ministry does amend the books.”

Meanwhile, Education Minister Naftali Bennett is refuting a report by the Molad Center that showed that groups linked to his political party are taking over the religious and ethical curriculum in secular schools. His denials however did not convince the cities of Tel Aviv and Givatayim which said they would no longer allow these groups to work in their schools.