Israel Launches School Program to Honor Fallen Soldiers

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Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, May 9, 2016.
Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, May 9, 2016. Credit: Emil Salman

The Education Ministry is launching a program to commemorate fallen soldiers that will bring friends or family members of the deceased into the classroom.

As part of the program, announced Tuesday by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, each week students will learn soldiers’ life stories and meet with a family member or friend.

The program, first reported by Channel 10, will start in the coming school year for ninth graders and later be expanded to other age groups.

Participants include the Yad Labanim soldiers’ memorial organization, the Mofet Institute for teacher education, the Defense Ministry’s Families and Commemoration Department, academic colleges of education and local governments.

Each week the students will learn about the broader Israeli history surrounding a soldier’s death and the concept of national bereavement. Each class will produce a book dedicated to the memory of the soldier, which will be given to his family or the local Yad Labanim branch.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett at a press conference, Feb. 18, 2016. Credit: Moti Millrod

“No words can console a family that has lost a son, but it is our obligation to tell the boys’ story to future generations,” Bennett said.

“Israeli students will get to know the fallen soldiers from up close, the story of their life and death, their family and their commemoration project. This is our moral obligation to the boys who fought for us and didn’t return from the battlefield; it’s our moral obligation to their families.”

Yad Labanim chief Eli Ben Shem applauded Bennett’s efforts. “We will expand the program in the coming years to widen the circles and instill the values for which the boys fought and in whose name they fell,” he said.

Currently the school system has a number of similar programs launched by the right-leaning governments of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In one, started by then-Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar in 2011, students tend monuments and the graves of the fallen.

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