20 Years of Meitarim
Itzhak blessed Yaacov not because he was mistaken in thinking that he was Esau, but because he wanted to bless the person in from of him as a whole: the person who has "the hands of Esau,” but the “voice of Yaacov." Itzhak knew that a blessing can prevail only where the partitions fall, and the worlds so different from each other are blessed by each other and become unified.
With these words, I opened my remarks at the "Living Together" conference held at Mazkeret Batya about two weeks ago, where we celebrated Meitarim's 20th anniversary. Indeed, we were blessed at this conference with the blessing of our father Itzhak - which takes place when the partitions fall and a connection is established between different worlds. And simultaneously, Itzhak Herzog, the President of the State of Israel, who honored us with his presence, through his words, blessed Meitarim for its considerable contribution to Israeli society. A contribution that turns the blessing of Itzhak Avinu into a doctrine of life.
We were thrilled to host close to five hundred women and men at the conference, all of whom are working together to bring down the partitions and connect individuals and communities in Israeli society with different backgrounds. Kindergarten teachers, school teachers and principals from all over the country: from Yeruham in the south to Natur in the Golan Heights. Intellectuals and visionaries, alongside people of action and public figures - traditional, secular and religious. These are the educators who work together day after day, hour after hour. They come from all avenues of Israeli society, from the center to the social periphery, to connect the strings (literally Meitarim), to create unity, a broad Judaism that has diversity - that has a place for everyone, where everyone knows how to engage with each other and be blessed by each another.
It was an uplifting and exciting event. One that would have been almost impossible to imagine twenty years ago, when we had just set out and could count the number of integrated education schools on one hand. Who could envision that 20 years later the Meitarim network would include close to one hundred kindergartens, dozens of schools and mixed communities, preparatory schools and seminaries. And this is not yet the full picture. Every year, more and more groups of parents looking to be part of this revolution we are leading in Meitarim are operating throughout the country.
At the main ceremony, I was personally taken by surprise when I was presented with a book dedicated to me. This book, compiled by Meitarim’s own Director of Curriculum and Leadership Development, Elyasaf Tel-Or is entitled, "Learning to Live Together" and holds over 40 articles about integrated education and mixed communities in Israel. It was good that I was able to lean on two of my grandchildren who accompanied me to the event in preparation for their Bar Mitzvah . Of course, they are both educated in Meitarim schools.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hosts at Mazkeret Batya for providing us with perfect and empowering hospitality: the school, the local council, Branco-Weiss and to thank and praise the Meitarim CEO Dr. Ranit Budai-Heyman and all her wonderful staff. There is no task too great for them to take upon themselves, and they dedicate their days and nights to bringing integrated education into the mainstream of education in Israel.