TALI’s Meorot Program Teaches Pluralism as a Subject of Study


TALI’s newest educational platform, ‘Meorot’ (‘Beacons of Light’ in English), is promoting pluralism as a subject of study like Math, English and Science. The program is an educational incubator model for TALI schools with the purpose of transforming pluralism into a discipline for elementary school students. During the program’s first year, it is currently planned for three years, teams from participating TALI schools met regularly to explore the concept of creating the curriculum for teaching pluralism to their students with the dream of expanding the program to schools throughout Israel.

Meorot is changing the way we think of teaching values. TALI’s pedagogy team guides and mentors a school’s educational teams, working with school staff to build on their successes, engage thinking about pluralism among staff, students, and families, add Jewish and Israeli knowledge, encourage an open-minded and creative approach to Judaism, and contribute to strengthening students’ sense of belonging, wellness, and cultural identity.

Dr. Peri Sinclair, Susan and Scott Shay TALI Director General notes, “Meorot is the key to expanding learning and creating actual pluralism at the local school level. Building on that, the program will expose these concepts to Israel’s children, who we believe will, as they grow older, deepen their involvement in their communities in developing pluralism.”

TALI’s goal is to connect Judaism to Israel’s core values of Zionism and Democracy. These three supports form TALI’s fundamental educational pillars from whence it developed Meorot.

A child’s worldview, social skills, and knowledge are co-forged by their formal education center – the school – alongside family and the community in which they live. No school, no family and no community exists in a vacuum. Thus, Israel’s very future as a Jewish and pluralistic democratic state is in the hands of today’s children, who will be the next generation of voters and leaders.

Teachers in Meorot program at Ben Gurion’s Museum discussing teaching of Israel’s Declaration of Independence

“This is why Meorot’s success is of vital importance for the future,” says program leader Orit Bar-Or, Director of Formal Education for all TALI elementary schools, and a former Principal of the TALI Hod Hasharon School for 15 years.

“TALI is building a pluralism curriculum that will take the ideas of pluralism out of the theoretical realm of words into the practical world of measurable acts of behavior. Just as in math and language, students are required to demonstrate specific skills, we want to prove that pluralistic behavior can be taught and measured empirically,” explains Bar-Or.

To make this measurement a reality, Dr. Nurit Novis-Deutsch, a Schechter graduate at Haifa University’s Department of Education, is studying the effects of the Meorot curriculum on a group of 5th graders. Her research is the first of its kind undertaken anywhere in the world.

Says Bar-Or, “This is ground-breaking research. We are hoping the findings will tell us that participants acquired tangible skills in tolerance and acceptance of people with differing views and traditions.”

TALI, as an educational organization, sees the school – at its core – as a place to promote Jewish-Israeli values and engage the vast, multi-layered and interconnected network of families, seniors, and other stakeholders surrounding its physical space. Educating for pluralism can bring together communities inside a school’s walls as well as those existing in the neighborhood.

This is why Meorot is so important. “We don’t want children failing any subject of study, especially ‘pluralism,’” posits Bar-Or.

The importance of sharing goals and learning among staff from various schools is essential for Meorot’s success. TALI is empowering schools to identify and share with other schools the different elements that make their own school excellent. One school may focus on working more as a community — getting teachers involved in planning special events and inviting the larger community to participate. Another may seek to raise the level of discourse among teachers and students or emphasize values, general atmosphere, and innovative methods of solving conflicts and problems.

Teachers discussing pluralism as a value

Schools affiliated with TALI serve over 65,000 students and significantly impact the next generation of Israelis in the secular school system.

Meorot started small with six schools and is now looking forward to replicating its success on a larger scale. TALI experts are currently working with more schools around the country to become members of the program’s second cohort.


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