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Targum Shlishi Supports Development of Math and Science Curriculum for Haredim: Integrating math and science into Torah study

FOCUS ON ISRAEL: Targum Shlishi has placed a particular emphasis on grants related to Israel recently. This announcement is part of a series of e-newsletters beginning in Fall 2014 that focuses on our Israeli efforts. We are particularly interested in projects that challenge the status quo in creative, provocative, and generative ways. Our motivation? We are facing many challenges in Israel and the Jewish world, including the external threats of terrorism and the de-legitimization of Israel, internal factionalism, and even our rapidly evolving technology, with its challenges as well as promises. While many of these difficulties are not new, they are more urgent than ever. It is time to explore different approaches.

(Miami, March 8, 2015) - Targum Shlishi is helping to support the initiative Rakee’a – Educational Research and Development Initiative, which is developing a unique curriculum for haredi students in grades K-12 that integrates math and science into Torah study.

This initiative began in 2010 in response to the fact that there is almost no science education in haredi schools, and very little math. The curriculum is based in large part on discrete math, and the topics and exercises originate from the Chumash text. The result is an integration of secular and religious text. These lessons have been developed to cover nearly all of the topics required by Israel’s ministry of education, as well as additional topics uniquely suited to Torah study, such as algorithmic thinking, pattern and symmetry recognition, and the aesthetic side of mathematics. The curriculum is currently implemented in five schools and is expected to be offered commercially in the near future.

“This program is completely revolutionary and has great promise,” notes Aryeh Rubin, founder and director of Targum Shlishi. “It is critical to educate haredi youth in math and science so that they can be competitive in the job market.  Yet, if you force feed math and science, it will often be resented and absorption of materials will be diminished. Rakee’a’s creative approach of introducing these subjects to students through Torah study is very exciting. The goal is for graduates of haredi schools to become fully employed and to be able to integrate into Israeli public life – and keep in mind that these students, some sooner, some later, will be voters. These goals have been challenging in the past, but programs like Rakee’a provide hope for a better future.”

Orthodox schools in Israel are faced with a growing demand for math and science education that does not conflict with Orthodox teachings. At the same time, Israel’s economy is more dependent than ever on a highly skilled workforce with a strong math and science background. “We know well that the entry point to the future elite job market is high quality and versatile education. With children at haredi schools comprising up to thirty percent of all students in Israel in first grade, this initiative not only addresses the prevention of future individual poverty but helps preserve Israel’s economy as a vibrant and growing one. Rakee’a’s high quality science and math education interwoven with Torah education provides students with a versatile foundation,” says Aharon Ariel Lavi, strategic planning director of Nettiot.

About Nettiot
Rakee’a is one of several initiatives under the umbrella of the Israeli organization Nettiot (Plantings), a network of communities of Ba’aley Teshuvah (returnees, or people who became religious later in life) and dozens of social projects. There are 200,000 Israelis who identify themselves as newly religious. Nettiot was created both to serve the needs and to harness the potential of the newly religious, who are able to bridge the worlds of the general Israeli public and the haredi societies. Nettiot aims to support the growing population of newly religious individuals in their aim to live a religious life while contributing to Israeli society. For more information, visit its website at www.nettiot.org.

About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.
 

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