Finding a school that fits your religious philosophy and values is a critical component of Aliyah planning. Understanding Israeli terminology will give you the tools that are necessary for searching for the right school system for your family. The school system that is chosen should be in harmony with the religious tones of your home. Typically, children continue in the same system from elementary through high school, so it is important to make a careful choice in the beginning.
Spiritual and religious growth is often the basis for making Aliyah. For some Olim, a conscious decision may be made to embark on a new religious path in Israel. However, it is important to remember that adapting to a more demanding Judaic studies curriculum or a stricter dress code, for example, may prove to be too much for a child who is already struggling to adapt to a new environment. This is especially true when making Aliyah with pre-teens and teenagers. Therefore, careful thinking is essential when considering sending your child to a more religiously intensive school.
Mamlachti (Secular – Public)
Elementary and high schools that provide a general studies education including a minimal amount of Tanach (Bible) study. Some of these schools offer a limited Jewish enrichment program. Classes are co-ed. High school graduates usually begin their army service after graduation. Some spend a year volunteering prior to their army service.
- Tali (acronym for Enriched Jewish Study): Mamlachti co-ed elementary schools that incorporate Jewish studies enrichment programming into the general studies curriculum. Some of the schools are affiliated with the Conservative movement.
- Meytarim: Mamlachti pluralist co-ed elementary and high schools in which religious and non-religious students study general and Judaic studies together. High school graduates usually begin their army service after graduation. Some spend a year volunteering prior to their army service.
These elementary and high schools offer a dual curriculum of Judaic and general studies. There is a commitment to both a Torah-observant lifestyle and to the values of religious Zionism. Some of the schools are co-ed from 1st-6th grade whereas others separate the children starting in 4th grade. With a few exceptions, all of the junior high and high schools are single-sex. High school students take the Bagrut matriculation exams. The boys generally continue on to a one-year pre-army Mechina program (Torah study and army preparation) or Yeshivat Hesder (5–year, combined yeshiva and army service). The girls generally continue on to 1 or 2 years of Sherut Leumi (National Service) while some serve in the army. Some also study in a Midrasha (Torah learning program for women) for a year.
Mamlachti – Dati-Torani (Religious – Public – Torani)
These elementary and high schools offer a dual curriculum of Judaic and general studies. A stronger emphasis is placed on the Torah studies and on the development of a rigorous religious atmosphere. There are separate classes, and in some cases separate schools for boys and girls in elementary school. All of the junior high and high schools are single-sex. The graduates of these schools follow a similar course as the dati-leumi or the Chardal population.
Chardal (abbreviation for: Charedi Dati-Leumi)
These schools are typified by a more stringent observance of Halachah (Jewish law). The boy’s schools focus mainly on Torah studies while providing a basic secular studies education. The girl’s schools offer a dual curriculum with a stronger emphasis on the Torah studies. All of the female students take the Bagrut matriculation exams. Some of the boys’ high schools follow the same course of study as in the Mamlachti-Dati schools, whereas others concentrate all of the Bagrut exams into the final year of high school. The boys continue on to Yeshivat Hesder or Yeshiva Gevoha whereas the girls continue on to 1 or 2 years of Sherut Leumi. Some also study in a Midrasha for a year.
Hinuch Atzmai – Haredi (right wing-Orthodox)
The focus is on Torah study and religious growth. The boy’s Talmud Torahs (1st-8th grade) offer a minimal general studies education. With few exceptions, the boy’s high schools (Yeshiva Ketana) do not offer any general studies. The girl’s attend Beis Yaakov type elementary and high schools (seminars) that offer a dual curriculum with a stronger emphasis on the Torah studies. Though there are few exceptions, neither the boys nor the girls earn a Bagrut matriculation certificate. Upon graduation, girls will most likely attend a post high school Haredi seminary. The boys continue on to Yeshiva Gedola.