Tent camp in Beit Lid, Israel for WWII refugees
Tent camp in Beit Lid, Israel for WWII refugeesReuters

Four years after the subject of the Holocaust was removed from the matriculation exam curriculum as part of the reform decided by former Education Minister Shai Piron, the subject is being returned to exam material.

The topic was not taken out of the high school curriculum, but became part of the material being taught under "alternative assessment."

The move drew harsh public criticism from academics and history teachers who argued that removing the Holocaust from the matriculation examination curriculum sends a negative message about its importance.

Following this protest, Minister Bennett announced last year that Holocaust studies will be returned to the exams beginning in the upcoming school year. At the same time, Education Ministry Central Supervisor Dr. Orna Katz-Atar announced that for the first time, students will also learn about the Holocaust of North African Jewry under Nazi occupation as part of compulsory high school education.

Djerba Ghriba Synagogue, Tunisia
Djerba Ghriba Synagogue, TunisiaiStock

This program will include chapters on the circumstances of the occupation and its purpose, Nazi policy towards Tunisian and Libyan Jews, the local population's attitude towards the Jews, the Nazi occupation and the fate of North Africa's Jews during World War II under the Nazis.

Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz said the decision to incorporate the Holocaust of Eastern Jews into compulsory history material is an ethical move to create a common denominator among all students. "For years, the story of Islamic countries' Jews during the Nazi occupation has been absent from our discourse," Peretz said. "It is our duty to make every student feel that they are a significant part of the story we are teaching in the education system, which belongs to and reflects all parts of Israeli society."

Rafi Peretz
Rafi PeretzFlash 90