Michele Chabin writing in The Jewish Journal:
Israel’s Ministry of Education’s decision this week to change the way student exchange programs are operated and possibly funded could have a significant impact on the exchange programs that exist between Jewish day schools in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, among others.
According to a ministry spokesperson, the new rules state that Israeli students traveling abroad must do so during school vacations, and that municipalities, not parents, must come up with the money – up to $1,000 to Los Angeles per child – for the trips. The new standards do not apply to Holocaust trips, which can cost as much as $1,600.
Such changes could impact the program’s structure and intent, and Los Angeles Federation representatives are actively advocating the trips at the Ministry of Education, trying to find ways to address the concerns while maintaining the exchange…
A ministry spokesperson told The Jewish Journal that the changes were initiated by Shimshon Shoshani, the director general, after reading some of the parents’ complaints in an article in the Hebrew daily Ha’aretz. Despite the organizers’ good intentions, the parents said, the programs left non-participants feeling marginalized
Dr. Shoshani determined that the children going abroad aren’t studying, the children remaining at home aren’t studying, because their teachers are abroad. Then there is the issue of money. Children whose parents can afford it can go to America and those without money can’t. It creates inequality and resentment.”
For the programs to continue, the spokesperson said, “the cities will have to find sources of financing, sponsors, so that all the children who want to go can go.” Students planning to visit the U.S. “in the next month or two” will be permitted to do so, “but after that it will stop,” the spokesperson said.