If I had to choose one subject for all Israeli schools to focus on this academic year, it would without a doubt be the acceptance of others out of an aspiration for unity.
It seems that nothing is more vital at this time than highlighting what unites us as a nation and removing that which separates us. I believe that this lesson, which is so relevant for all of Israeli society and not just the educational system, is the one that can bring about an important change at this most critical time.
So how does one teach to strive for unity at a time when polarization and division endanger Israeli society? The ability to have an open dialogue in the education system—from kindergartens to high schools—plays a central role.
Educational institutions must be a place of safety, inclusion, and understanding for every student: A home that both allows them to express themselves most authentically and directly and accepts them without criticism and judgment.
Only such a complete and true sense of equality increases social cohesion, a sense of belonging and responsibility for one another. I am confident that our excellent educational system has the necessary tools to succeed in this task.
The start of a new academic year is an important opportunity to be proud of the achievements of the Israeli educational system. As president, I often visit Israeli schools and always walk away with a deep sense of appreciation for all the employees, who do holy work with dedication and a sense of mission to impact hundreds of students and shape our future.
When I see their desire to reach every student and promote excellence and how patient they are with the students who are struggling, I am filled with appreciation and admiration.
I am excited along with the students who are returning to their schools and hope that this academic year will bring with it an opportunity to learn and teach about unity – a lesson we need now more than ever.
Originally published by Israel Hayom.