When we were up north last week, at one point when I was davening, I thought about Jerusalem. I wondered what other people who live in different areas think about why we are always specifying Jerusalem. I know we get more and more specific, but do they mind? Was that the reason for the split of the kingdoms back in the day, because they couldn’t really accept the centrality of the holiness of Jerusalem? And what about today? Clearly, those in Tel Aviv (or in most of the secular world) can’t begin to wrap their heads around the inherent kedushah of Yerushalayim. And again we have another problem of communication.When we went to the Old City the other day, and we went to the Kotel, it was very clear to me how you can feel the holiness. Not by looking at the people, who are certainly entertaining, and I do enjoy that. But even I the sceptic, the ADHD of daveners, could feel the pull of the words while I was davening minchah that afternoon. So how do we get people (forget people–Jews) to feel that pull, to get it?Those who are in the business of trying to get people/Jews to feel it usually try too hard. When I was in Machaneh Yehudah picking up some food for Shabbos last week, there was a van with a very loudspeaker with some nanaNachman song and some really clownish dancers. Entertaining? No! Blocking the street! People were not amused but very ticked off that they couldn’t get by.
No, not the right way. Then there is a fellow who is here at our son’s yeshivah who has never learned gemara before.
He tried a few different places but they won’t even begin to let him attempt to learn gemara before they indoctrinate him with all kinds of other stuff. It probably works, but honor the guy; he says he wants to learn seriously and is old enough not to want to waste time. Will he learn gemara in the short time he has put aside? Doubtful, but hopefully he will understand that he must put the time in. So they honor his commitment but help him open up to the awe of the tradition.But I know this doesn’t work for the public, because they’re haven’t or won’t make that first step of time commitment to begin with. So much to my amazement and because timing is everything, here’s a fascinating step that is being taken now:
On to Jerusalem
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar has instructed school principles to ensure that every student visits Jerusalem at least three times during his time in the school system, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.Sa’ar said he intends to bolster Jewish, Zionist and democratic values within the educational system upon taking office; and in accordance, he inaugurated the “On to Jerusalem” program on Tuesday.
“On to Jerusalem” is meant to ensure that every student in Israel visits the capital a minimum of three times in 12 years. The program, which will cost the ministry NIS 15 million (roughly $4.00 million) will focus on fifth, seventh and tenth-graders. Students visiting the capital as part of the program will visit the city’s most prominent landmarks: The City of David, mounts Zion and Herzl, the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Israel Museum, the Supreme Court, Ammunition Hill, the Knesset, the High Commissioner’s Residence and the Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood.
Students will also visit various educational centers throughout the city.
“The new program is meant to advance the policy I presented the Knesset and government with,” Sa’ar said. “It’s meant to enhance (students’) connection with Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and with Israeli’s tradition, and will allow every student the opportunity to be exposed to the historical riches of Jerusalem,” he added. “I am positive that through these tours the future generation’s affinity with Israel’s eternal capital will come to grow.”
I think he’s got the right idea; I am excited to see (not if but) how it works.