Daily Israel Report

Yad L'achim: 'Kids in Secular Schools Don't Know Shema'

Days before the holiday of Shavuot, Yad L'achim called for more action in promoting Jewish identity among schoolchildren in Israel.
By David Lev
First Publish: 5/31/2011, 8:57 PM / Last Update: 5/31/2011, 9:33 PM

Flash 90

Days before the holiday of Shavuot, the head of the Yad L'achim organization, Rabbi Sholom Dov Lipschitz, called for more action in promoting Jewish identity among tens of thousands of Jewish schoolchildren in Israel.

“There are some 80,000 non-Jewish students in Israeli schools now, where they attend classes with Jewish children,” said Rabbi Lipschitz. “As a result, the Jewish identity of these children is eroding. Eventually this may lead to high levels of intermarriage, as in the U.S.

"These children do not even know how to say the “Shema Yisrael” prayer; they cannot complete the holy sentence that accompanied Jews throughout all the generations, all the exiles. These children, already the third generation of the great immigration from Arab countries, are being ignored spiritually."

“And if that weren't enough,” continued Rabbi Lipschitz, “there are 25,000 members of missionary communities in Israel now. They open one after another, funded by generous budgets. Israel has turned into a center of international missionary activity, where they now train missionaries to be sent abroad.

“These statistics,” said Rabbi Lipschitz, “should shock every Jew. Once, when we heard about a far-removed member of the community whose daughter married a non-Jew, we cried and mourned. Once, when we heard about even the most secularized Jew who left their religion, we would sit like mourners and rip our clothes. Today, when these things have become commonplace, no one says a thing.

“This is not the time to engage in just a defensive war,” said Rabbi Lipschitz. “We must go out to war, invading his 'lands,' so he does not conquer ours.”

By way of example, Rabbi Lipschitz demanded religious and hareidi Knesset members do more to include Jewish identity content in the secular school system. “It is unbelievable that these MKs sit in the government and uncaringly ignore the fate of these young Jews who are being lost. If they sit in the Knesset and the government and allow these things to continue, they have a terrible responsibility on their shoulders.”