07 February, 2007

The Jewish school where half the students are Muslim

Cool story via The Sudanese Thinker blog.
...half the 247 pupils at the 40-year-old local authority-supported school are Muslim, and apparently the Muslim parents go through all sorts of hoops, including moving into the school's catchment area, to get their children into King David to learn Hebrew, wave Israeli flags on independence day and hang out with the people some would have us believe that they hate more than anyone in the world.
Read the rest of this heartwarming story here: The Independent Online


Al Mulhama, The Inspired said...


Now lets play devil's advocate, imagine the roles reveresed and the school was a muslim school...

think of the scenarios.

Michelle Nickelson said...

I think it would be the same, at least I hope it would be.

Michelle Nickelson said...

"The school is also respectful to Islam, setting aside a prayer room for the children and supplying Muslim teachers during Ramadan. At Eid, the Muslim children are wished Eid Mubarak in assembly, and all year round, if they wish, can wear a kufi (hat)."

The key word....RESPECT. Now how do we export that to our Governments...that's the question!

Great article.

nzm said...

If the school was as open, organised and adaptive as King David seems to be, then why not?

Obviously they also offer a very good learning curriculum and teaching standard too which would be the biggest attraction to have kids at the school.

Anonymous said...

There are many such wonderful schools but they do not get much medial coverage. There is one such school in India a Muslim run school where they have Hindu lady teachers who teach wearing the Hijab. In the past in India most the convent schools had majority of hindu student all joined in morning prayers, almost always christian.

Let's pray for more such institutions where respect and tolerence are imparted throught knowledge and understanding. Rather than terrible method of using excessive force to teach modern culture and values. May God save us from dangerous forces.

Kiwi Boy said...

Mulhama, I see your point.. but Islamic schools [madrassahs] almost never teach secular stuff. It's only Qur'an, Ahadith, fiqh [ Islamic jurisprudence] etc., so I doubt any non-Muslim parents would send their children to an Islamic school.

Very good, optimistic article! Thanks for posting, nzm :)

bandicoot said...

Kiwi Boy -- you can’t be more wrong about this; not all Islamic schools are “madrasas” and not all madrasas are limited to teaching the religious sciences. Your view is just another example of the common stereotyping of Muslims and everything Islamic. Many Islamic Schools are modern schools that offer quality and mostly secular education, but also add some Islamic subjects and an environment inspired by religious ethics and family values. The following is from an article about the Universal Islamic School in Bridgeview, Illinois; it’s one example of a large variety of Islamic schools across the world. Let’s not paint them all with the same wrong brush!

What's being taught to children inside the Universal School, however, is based on a moderate philosophy that puts an emphasis on assimilation…The school has a mainstream curriculum and a wholesome range of activities: school newspaper, science-fair club, volleyball, math league, spelling bees. The boys'varsity basketball team won the championship trophy in the Chicago Unity league, an interfaith conference. Students take part in community-service outings with other private schools, bag food twice a month for two homeless shelters in Chicago's inner city and work as volunteer nurse's aides at the local hospital.

nzm said...

Bandicoot: your link to the Universal Islamic School doesn't work.

I believe that this is the article that you refer to?

While it's encouraging that there are Islamic schools like Universal who are following a mainstream curriculum, I don't believe that you'll get anyone but a Muslim kid enrolling in the school because of the emphasis on Islam and its influences on normal life which, to a non-muslim, (and often to some more modern-thinking muslims!) are too restrictive and sometimes too retrospective.

For instance, the Muslim boys at King David don't have to wear the yamulka, but some choose to wear it. At Universal, the older girls must wear the hijab. The wiser comment about wearing it comes from one of the students.

Freshman Sarah Martini says, "I'm not ready to wear it yet. It has to come from the heart."

This paragraph:
Girls are separated from boys from sixth grade through tenth grade. As juniors and seniors, they mix again, although the sexes sit separately in the classroom. Casual conversation between girls and boys is discouraged at all times.

Is this really helping the kids to know how to cope with life outside the school walls? Would this not encourage them to seek the opposite in an environment that wasn't so controlled?

Look at the conflict created when studying Romeo and Juliet:
When teacher Fuzia Jarad's English class read Romeo and Juliet, the girls wanted to know, "Is it love at first sight?" "Yes," the teacher answered. "As Muslims, we don't do that. The difference is lust versus love; appearance versus knowing. Islam protects you from mistakes."

I personally don't believe that the children attending this school are being prepared for the real world outside the school - the world where all types of people, different religions, differing sets of values and morals all mix - where they have to make choices and decisions based upon who they are and what they believe in.

I do believe that that the Muslim children attending King David will be better prepared as they are being exposed to different values in a controlled environment and, under guidance, are being presented with choices rather than being told what to do all the time.

What The Times article brings to light for me is the clash of values that religions cause.

As Universal's Principal Farhat Siddiqui says, ""It's a constant battle, separating cultural issues from religious values. The school does teach how to avoid being seduced by those parts of American culture many parents consider un-Islamic. What we're up against in movies, television and music is profanity, sex and violence. The whole teenage phenomenon in the U.S. is one of personal power — claiming their own voice, their own soul, their own spirit. We don't want to crush that. We want to guide it."

If Muslim children are going to function within any society without feeling alienated, they have to feel comfortable with their religion and that there is no conflict of values. They have to be comfortable enough to make the choices for themselves based upon what they believe in, regardless of how tempting the external influences may be. When confronted with sex, violence, profanity, they have to be comfortable enough to say, "Interesting, but no thanks, that's not for me. I choose not to be involved in this."

For that to happen, the balance has to come from within Islam itself and from within its followers.

What I get from the article is that there is still confusion on how to reach this balance.

When Islam, or any religion, has such heavy infuence on how people live their lives in a modern world, (which is a far different world in which the fundamentals of the religions were formed so many centuries ago), this will always be a struggle unless some agreement is reached about how religions can better serve their followers in more modern times.

Perhaps the Amish have the right idea - isolation, and keeping their world as it was, so that no fandangled modern influences can upset the balance!

Anonymous said...

NZM thats a point of view of an outsider.
All of my friends went to a girls only, muslim only school. Most of them went abroad and are doing just fine, no conflicts, no problems, nothing. Yes, they work with men, with Jews, with Christians and all sort of backgrounds.
If Islam was imposed on them, they would have taken the Hijab off as soon as they left the country. But its still on, still find a place at work to wear it.
I think you should spend time talking with a broader range of Muslim people rather than make a narrow statment.
Live and let live will you. What works for you doesn't necessarily work for the rest of us.

nzm said...

Anonymous @15:00: how quick you are to judge my viewpoint and tell me what to do, when at the same time you ask me to live and let live!

I'm happy that all your friends adjusted to their lives abroad. As far as wearing the hijab, then they must feel in their hearts that it's the right thing to do, and not because of Islam which is a point that I make above.

You try to make me the outsider by your words, but I'm not one. I may have different opinions to you, but it doesn't make me an outsider just because I think differently!

bandicoot said...

nzm – thanks for fixing the link to the article. The point of my response was to show the false assumption underlying kiwi boy’s statements about Islamic schools; I wasn’t necessarily promoting Islamic schools or advocating them as a model of modern education. I’m sure the range of such schools is beyond my and your knowledge; and there is no reason to believe that Universal has the best practices. I also believe that neither you or I (or anybody else at this point) can make a sound judgment as to whether King David or Universal is a better school. That would require a lot more serious research. There is much more to schooling than how people dress and whether the two sexes are mixed or not and how they interpret Romeo and Juliet. Schools are part of the real world, and what happens in them (including, at least on the negative side, sex, drugs, bullying, cheating, abuse, etc.) goes a long way in “preparing” school kids to the reality outside of schools and making them who they are. In any school, kids are taught some form of morality and are put under a regime of restrictions, along with the specific curriculum and standards of learning they have. We may have our personal opinions about these and therefore pick a list of preferences, but our choices (if we are lucky enough to live where we have choices) are really just that, and should not be seen as prescriptions for the rest of humanity. Whether this or that Islamic or Jewish school is more or less successful is not a popularity contest and certainly depends on much more than one or tow newspaper articles.

Hot Lemon& Honey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Those girls were tol to wear the Hijab as kids, and were never able to choose the school they went to.

And they do feel its the right thing to do as part of the Islamic teaching. Nobody is watching them here, nobody cares if they wear it or not, or if they pray or not. So that speaks volumes to me.

Alot of what you said implies that people just follow the religion blindly as kids, some do, so dont.
Yes, maybe sex education is not done as much as many hearts desire, but that is a cultural thing. Parents wil have a fit if their kids were exposed to such talk early on. It is done in high school.

It just bothers me how people like to interfere in other peoples way of life, religion and culture and judge them and tell them how its done right. Cause every culture has its draw backs.

And by the way, I am not alienating you by my statement, I just feel you are making a bland generalization potraying how religion is holding peoples life back. It is not, and lets not talk thinking of the minority of cases that we all agree are extremist.

So yes, I repeat live and let live.


Lirun said...

as a kid i studied for some time in a jewish school in australia and we had many non jews at our school.. we had muslims.. christians hindus etc all paying crazy money because they loved the schools values of openness and acceptance even in a strictly religious jewish context and at a zionist school..

many of my non jewish fellow students remain my friends today - and i am grateful to our parents for having created this environment that so lovingly brought us all up..

im pinching the ref to this article for my blog.. well done on a great topic.. at least i think so ;)

nzm said...

Bandicoot: agreed, and that's why I state that these views are my personal opinions drawn from what's written in those articles.

HL&H: I knew it was you - that reply had you written all over it! I also knew that you wouldn't be able to resist commenting on this. lol.

Please note: In my comments, I do not imply anything, I state what I mean, so don't go reading into anything that I write something which isn't there. Take the words for what they are.

Nowhere have I written that religion is followed blindly, and nowhere have I said that what I've written is right and what the articles are reporting is wrong -
these are my opinions having read the two articles - what are your opinions having read them?

And where have I written that religion is holding back peoples' lives or have I written about sex education?

Every culture has its drawbacks? I like to think that every culture has its advantages!

If you want to debate what I've said, then please stick to responding to what I've written and don't go off on your own tangents about sex education, religion holding back people's lives and religion being followed blindly - or start a new post to debate them.

Lirun: I had a partner whose son (non-Jew) also attended a Jewish school in NZ, and the values taught there are lifelong traits in this child. (Trying to make sure that his lunches were kosher was another story - what? no peanut butter? lol)

As well, the curriculum was comprehensive, and the quality of the teaching was first-rate - something which I suspect is one of the main motivations for the UK Muslim families wanting to put their children into King David where the standards would be higher than most other state-run schools.

Thanks! You remind me why I posted it in the first place - to celebrate something positive!

BTW - I also pinched your OneVoice ref for my blog! lol.

Lirun said...

sweet ;)

Lirun said...

on the islamic school and jewish kid spin.. allow me to be a bit more revealing..

my gran's family are from sudan.. and her brother attended a local university in khartoum.. back in those days the dress was traditional sudanese dress (compulsory) and the university was described by my gran as a very islamic oriented institution..

given that my uncle stayed for the entire degree - medicine.. and given that his cousins did too.. im guessing it wasnt all that bad at all..

i think studying together is a very bonding experience..

nzm said...

i think studying together is a very bonding experience..

Agreed - as is blogging together!

It's opened us up to people and cultures that we otherwise would not have been involved with.

Our little network of blog visitors spans the globe and we've met such awesome people in cyberspace, as well as physically on some occasions.

Lirun said...

very true ;)

shabbat shalom
wishing you all a good weekend

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