Educating Toward Excellence in Midot in the Dati Leumi Girls’ High School System in Israel

Adina Luber

In this project, the author attempts to understand how Dati Leumi high schools for girls in Israel educate their students toward excellence in Midot. Recognizing that Midot education occurs within the larger picture of the educational system as a whole, she explores the various aspects of the Dati Leumi educational system, with a view to their relevance to Midot education.

The author introduces the paper with an explanation of the concept of Midot education and its importance as a component of religious education. After describing the transformative educational process she experienced during the initial stages of her research, she goes on to analyze various figures in the Dati Leumi school system who are significant with regard to Midot education.

In the first chapter of the paper, the author describes the views of the policy makers for the Dati Leumi school system, including policy makers on the government level and religious-educational leadership policy makers. She offers interpretations of their policies regarding religious education and its relationship with modernity. Comparing the different policies of the two types of policy makers, she finds that while government policy makers are concerned that their population is not exposed enough to Western culture, religious leadership is advocating rejection of secular influences. The author concludes that both government policy makers and religious-educational leaders are not completely aware of the challenges facing their population, and as a result, are setting policies which are difficult to implement. Finally, the author examines the ramifications of the policy situation with regard to Midot education in the Dati Leumi system. Her conclusions are that the confusion and lack of clarity which characterize the policies of this system are inhibiting the ability of the system to deal with its numerous religous educational problems. As a result of the necessity to deal with other crises, Midot are inevitably neglected and do not reach the policy makers’ agenda.

In the second chapter, the author explores an additional level of the educational system, the teachers in Dati Leumi girls’ high schools, while attempting to understanding their Midot educational goals. She describes the interviews she conducted with ten mekhankhot and mekhankhim in various girls’ high schools regarding their educational philosophies and strategies, focusing on religious character education. Through interpreting the teachers’ statements, the author attempts to understand the challenges and problems the Dati Leumi school system is facing with regard to religious education and the connection of these challenges to Midot education in particular. Finding that this school system is experiencing a Midot crisis, she suggests several reasons for this problem, such as lack of time to focus on Midot due to prioritization of academic achievement, the dire need to deal with religious commitment problems, and the exposure of its students to popular culture, which contains negative Midot content. However, the author finds that the Midot crisis is being dealt with by the system’s educators, who are consciously using indirect methods of teaching Midot and setting a personal example as outstanding role models.

Given the findings of her research of teachers, the author presents several general recommendations which schools may consider implementing in order to further Midot development. These include cultivating the Midot awareness of teachers through training and discussion, and creating a positive atmosphere in the school.

In the conclusion of the paper, the author compares the policy making level of the Dati Leumi educational system to the teachers’ view regarding openness and Midot education. She finds that while the teachers are aware of the necessity to increase Midot education and awareness, policy makers do not fully acknowledge the Midot problem, though it may be expected that the Midot issue will eventually reach their agendas. Finally, the author offers recommendations for further research regarding Midot education, including the exploration of the roles of students, parents and the school principal with regard to Midot.


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