Welcome our 2016-2017 Shinshinim, Bar Avitan and Shir Biran! They are both SO excited to be at Beth Emeth, Beth Tikvah, and Associated Danilack for the next 10 months! Make sure to "Like" their Facebook page, "Bar and Shir UJA’s Israel Engagement ShinShinim",

Right: Shir Biran. Left: Bar Avitan

D'var Israel

Every week, Bar and Shir will be posting their weekly D'var Israel here for everyone to read! They will present their D'var Israel in synagogue every Shabbat morning towards the end of services, but if you cannot make it, you can read it here!

D'var Israel

Languages in Israel

Good morning! By a show of hands, how many of you would say that you can speak fluent French? And, if your hand is raised, how many of you grew up in Quebec or New Brunswick? Since arriving in Toronto in August, I have come to understand that there is more than one official language in Canada - here, English and French are both official languages. At the moment, in Israel, 37 languages and dialects are spoken throughout the country. 3 of those languages are recognized as official languages in Israel - Hebrew, Arabic and English.

In Israel, Hebrew, Arabic, and English received different statuses by law in 1922 - Hebrew is the main language, Arabic is the second official language and English is the third, which is usually used for foreign trade. However, since 1999, English is no longer an official language in Israel according to the law. It is still taught extensively in every school in Israel as a mandatory class between grade 3 through to graduation. You can see that Bar and I (Shir and I) got 9 years of English classes by our ability to write and deliver this entire D’var in English.

Learning Arabic, which is still legally an official language in Israel, is mandatory only in some schools. However, in other schools, you can choose between Arabic and French from Grades 7 to 10, with the option for students to continue learning their chosen language until graduation. In schools where Arabic is mandatory, students are required to study Hebrew beginning in Grade 3 all the way to graduation, as well as English. The result is that almost every Israeli Arab student will be able to have a conversation in Hebrew. Unfortunately, not every Israeli will be able to have a conversation with those Israeli-Arabs in Arabic.

There are over 420 million Arab speakers worldwide, and 1.7 million of them live in Israel, where they are about 20 percent of the population. Arabic is used daily by Israeli Muslims, Christians and Druze, as well as by Jews who originate from Arab countries. Arabic was always considered a legitimate language for use in the Knesset, but only rarely have Arabic-speaking Knesset members made use of this privilege. This situation can be easily explained: while all Arabic-speaking Knesset Members are fluent in Hebrew, fewer Hebrew-speaking Knesset members can understand Arabic.

Progress has been made in the area of languages in Israel. In 2008, the Arabic Language Academy was established in Haifa, similar to the Hebrew Language Academy that already existed. By law, road signs, food labels, and messages published or posted by the government must be translated into literary Arabic. Also, there are schools that offer bilingual education.

Still it’s not enough. The education system has to change the way it offers language education to make it more equal. Israel should make a bigger effort to enhance the knowledge of the Arabic language in the Israeli public, understanding that education is the best tool to bridge cultural differences and the ability to communicate equally could be a good place to start bridging that .

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom.

International Women's Day and Megillat Esther

Good morning everyone, I would like to begin this morning by asking all the women in the room to raise their hands please? (WOW that’s a lot). Now may I ask all the women that have ever felt they are treated differently than men, just because they are women to raise their hands. (Okay…that's a lot!) Tonight we are reading מגילת אסתר as part of celebrating Purim. I want to emphasize that the מגילה we are reading is מגילת אסתר. In addition to that, three days ago, on March 8th, we celebrated International Women's Day. What a wonderful coincidence. Some would even consider ושתי as the first feminist in history. She refused to obey the king’s orders, she refused to act the way society expected her to act just because of the very fact she was a woman.

Today, I would like to share with you some information about women in modern Israel.

In 1926 the women of the Jewish settlement received the right to vote. (The same right was given to the women of Switzerland only in 1969!!). In 1969 Golda Meir was elected to be the Prime Minister of Israel, and was the third in the world to do so. In 1995, a young woman named Alice Miller, sued the military for her right to enlist into the prestigious pilot’s course. She managed to break the glass ceiling and she still is, a role model for many young women in Israel. Yet, Israel has a long way to go. The majority of citizens living under the poverty line, are women and children. Women get paid 34% less than men, although there are more women with academic degrees living in Israel, than men. Every woman in Israel will be sexually harassed at least once in her life, and one out of three will be sexually abused.

100,000 women are not granted a divorce (גט), because their husbands won’t let them have one. In Israel, you can only get married and divorced through the רבנות. - a Jewish religious institution which can at times complicate both marriage and divorce. Only 22% of the ministers in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, are women. Meanwhile, women represent 51% of Israel’s population.

As a young adult, it is very uncomfortable for me to hear these statistics. Unfortunately, there are many women who managed to break the glass ceiling, without even considering themselves as feminists. They simply deal with their day to day struggles and don’t settle quietly when someone says that can’t do something. They are too busy, supporting their families or even themselves. They don’t have the time to stop and see how unfair the world is, or even appreciate their own braveness and accomplishments. They just what they have to do. But I’m here to make a change, to BE the change, I did have the time to learn and recognize these issues, and I aspire to make a change. I hope to take a page out of Esther or Vashti’s play book, to not be fearful and forge my own path forward. I hope if I have a daughter, that she will get to live in a different reality, where you don’t have to prove yourself every single day...

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Purim Sameah.


Mon, 25 September 2017 5 Tishrei 5778