I have returned from Australia where I facilitated and presented at a national conference of Israel education, organized by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) in Melbourne. The conference was attended by representatives of almost every Zionist day school from across Australia, and from across the ideological and religious spectrum. Despite the differences of ideology, there was a tremendous amount of mutual respect and cooperation.
In addition to the presentations by individual speakers, representatives from the schools shared pedagogical models on Israel education. The Mishnaic statement, “who is wise? S/he who learns from all people,” was in full evidence at this conference.
It was amazing to witness the atmosphere of love of Israel (Ahavat Yisrael) that moved the delegates to tears of both emotion and laughter. The Australian Jewish community, with 80 percent of its children in the Jewish day school system, rightly prides itself in its strong Zionist commitment that filters down from the teachers, Israeli youth shlichim (emissaries) and pervades every aspect of the Jewish educational system. They invest heavily, both financially and time wise, in Zionist education, and the results are laudable. The Australian model is a shining example to the rest of the Jewish communities in the diaspora.