God promised plenty of children to Abraham, as we can read in Genesis 15: 5: “And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’”
Today, Israel has the highest birth rate in the entire western world. In 2016, for the first time, the Jewish birth rate was the same as the Arab birth rate at an average of 3.2 children for a single family.
Secular or Religious?
The Jewish education system offers two paths to educate our children:
- The national secular education system, which has liberal values and is working according to the Hebrew calendar.
- The national religious education system, which has values that are taken straight from the religious-rabbinical world, with a huge emphasis on teaching Judaism from the view of the oral law and the interpretations of past rabbis.
The Messianic-Jewish world here in Israel doesn’t have its own education system. There is a private school in Jerusalem that is adjusted to our needs and values, but there’s no framework available for Messianic children in the Tel Aviv area.
Most of our children study at the secular-liberal schools. This education system is extremely liberal; most teenagers smoke cigarettes, some of them also use drugs and alcohol, and the main value that’s being taught there is that ‘man’ is in the center of all things, not God.
The “New” Family Model
Teachers, today, don’t come to just teach math and literature. They also come to indoctrinate our kids to accept secular humanist values. The New Family Values two moms or dads and the acceptance of the new gender identities are emphasized.
I believe that one day, Yeshua, the King Messiah of Israel, will be the central theme in Israel’s day-to-day life, and also in the Israeli education system. But until that day comes, we are dealing with spiritual warfare over our children’s education and identity. Our children do understand that they’re not religious-Jews or secular-Jews, they are Jews who want to be followers of Yeshua. But unfortunately, there’s no appropriate educational framework for them in the Tel- Aviv area. We send our children to kindergartens and schools, while we stay our knees in prayer, constantly checking and reviewing the things that they are being taught.
Recently, an outrageous decision was made in the city council of Tel Aviv. On Friday, at the kindergartens, a very special ceremony is taking place to welcome the Shabbat. Every week they choose a boy who needs to be well-dressed, and he is called “The Father of the Shabbat”. His job in the ceremony is to bless the wine. And then you have “The Mother of the Shabbat”, who also needs to be well-dressed. Her job is to bless the bread. In the city council of Tel-Aviv, that these ceremonies should reflect the new family. So, sometimes it will be mother and mother or father and father.
When a child asks at home why there was a boy wearing a dress during school, or why the male teacher is married to a man and not a woman, we understand that we have a responsibility, both as parents and as a congregation, to provide the right teaching for our children. We must provide a Biblical foundation that will strengthen their faith, all while living in an extremely liberal society.
The Messianic Community Must Step Up
In this situation, both the Messianic community and our parents have an important role in designing the world’s perception of the child. There’s a culture war taking place. Messianic Israelis often feel trapped between the religious and secular systems.
As a congregation, we educate our children on the two main values upon which the Torah stands—loving God and loving others.
Taking Advantage of Biblical Holidays
We use holidays to organize events for families where the emphasis is on evangelizing and teaching the Torah’s values to our children. Our main need is to have a system of camps and daily teachings in the congregations during these holidays. And sometimes is feels like there is more holidays than school days!
Both our religious and secular education systems receive a huge budget from the government. The 2017 budget surpassed the security budget, standing now nearly 20 billion U.S. dollars. Out of this massive budget, not even one shekel is allocated for the education of Messianic children in Tel Aviv.
There’s a Jewish saying that goes like this: “Whoever saves a soul, it’s considered as if he saved the entire world”. In our case, we want to save the entire young generation in Israel that finds itself in a spiritual war for their precious souls. You, through prayer, can participate in this as well.
This article originally appeared on Tiferet Yeshua, March 30, 2017, and reposted with permission.