knows that a school based on Jewish Pluralistic education is succeeding
when the students who attend don’t know how or where their friends
place themselves on the spectrum of Jewish observance.
a recent visitor at Meitarim Raanana, the new pluralistic middle-high
school in Israel’s Sharon area, posed such a question at the Friday
student parliament, students were hard pressed to talk about their
At Meitarim Raanana 62 students in grades 7-10 matriculate in classes based on academic interest and not their grade level.
Initiated by a group of dedicated parents who sought an alternative to
the either religious or general studies schools in the area, Meitarim
Raanana grew out of need to offer teens a well-rounded high-quality
open-minded Jewish education. After 18 months of planning, the program
opened as a private school in Raanana this year. The need for a new
form of education was apparent when community support for this project
yielded high than expected registration for the school’s first year.
“Meitarim let’s us make choices about our education today that will
impact our future. Our teachers support us and guide us towards
decisions. In the end, we the students need to take responsibility for
our choices, both academic and extracurricular. In my old school everyone in my grade
took the exact same classes, here I take classes with kids who share my
interests. At Meitarim Raanana I have lots of friends and I like going
to school.” Ben, age 14.
The school curriculum requires that each semester all students take a
minimum number of required courses in following areas of study: Judaic
courses, math, science and English and phys ed. In those disciplines
they can chose from a number of electives. Additionally, students take
electives in music, visual arts, philosophy, history and literature.
addition to the academic courses, students participate in a weekly
parliament that is run by the students. Every member of the school
community is eligible to participate in parliament discussions and has
School committees meet weekly and initiate, organize and are
responsible for, together with adult advisors, all school programs
ranging from school trips, some academic issues, volunteering,
community involvement and kabbalat Shabbat.
According to Shmuel Ben David, the school principal, the first semester
was a great beginning. The future is great and there is much to
accomplish. He dreams about “A student body where the Beit Midrash and
library are always filled with students learning for the love of
learning and not to earn the grade.”
The school was founded on the belief that Israelis must work to build a
more cohesive society grounded in Jewish values and not divided by
religious polarization. More than just a middle-high school,
Meitarim Raanana is a community of dedicated teachers, involved parents and motivated
students. Defying the traditional Israeli labels of either religious or
secular, Meitarim Raanana is a unique learning community, whose
teachers promote a love of learning, encourage spiritual growth and
promote appreciation of Jewish and Zionist values.
By Michele Kaplan-Green