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A Messianic Jewish Day School

written by Asher Intrater
January 02, 2004

According to Deuteronomy 6, one of our top priorities in faith is to train our children. Here are excerpts from a letter that Asher shared with congregational leaders in Israel recently concerning the need for a Messianic Jewish day school alternative.

1. A twelve year old prayer:
Chayim Birnbaum is an Israeli Messianic Jew. He is the son of Pastor Shmuel and Haya Birnbaum. He’s 12 years old and in 7th grade. He is a wonderful young man, and a godly influence on our son, Amiel, who himself is in 6th grade.

This past Hanukah, he and Ami spent time together. And prayed together. And talked about the challenges they both face – at school. They talked of drug use, of sexual immorality, of hatred of God, of physical and emotional violence. (Not to mention, occultism and rebellion). Not “their” problem, but what they were facing among their peers at school.
In SIXTH (!) grade.

2. Congregational growth and children:
We have been blessed at Tiferet Yeshua congregation over the past year to see a significant number of new Sabras come to faith in Yeshua. Some of them are young families with young children.

On Shabbat on the first day of Hanukah, we had 50 children in our children’s program. What a blessing! Well, yes. And no.
It gave us a glimpse of the future. We saw how damaged the children are in our generation. These children are so hurting and so out of control and so uneducated and so immoral and so undisciplined and so unloved (many have never known their fathers, and many who do have fathers have had horrible experiences from them).

3. Looking at the Future:
Let us just suppose that in all the Israeli congregations, the evangelism really works; – and that we have many new families and many new children. Do we really think that 45 minutes for a Shabbat school class is going to combat six days a week in the secular school system? Even the best 4-day “bible” camps are no replacement for daily education.

Can you imagine an ultra orthodox Jewish family sending their children to a secular school and saying, “We’ll give them religious values at home”?

We, like many of the Messianic parents in Israel, have always been in favor of “mainstreaming” our children into the public school system. After all, we want them to be fully “Israeli” in their worldview. And after all, we said, sooner or later they are going to have to deal with those problems of sin and satan anyway. And of course, we said, the real responsibility for moral and spiritual upbringing comes from the home.

Agreed.

We have put four children through the Israeli school system. We have tried every avenue of secular and religious schools. The school system has gone down hill rapidly over the past fifteen years. Since the circumstances are different, perhaps we need a paradigm shift to deal with it.

4. What are the Alternatives?
One solution is to send our children to the enormously expensive foreign run private schools. But that is financially impossible for 99 percent of Israeli families. And in that case there is a problem of really being socially ghetto-ized.

Another option is a cooperative home school network. That’s possible, but would require a dependency on foreign material, and a full time demand upon the mother to handle the program. Except for a few foreign families, that solution is also highly impractical.

The only other alternative is “Messianic Day Schools.” A Messianic Day School would have to, 1. be Hebrew speaking, 2. have high moral and spiritual values, 3. have top quality education, 4. prepare the children for Israeli national achievement examinations and for Army enlistment.

5. What are the Challenges?
As far as I know, there are two fledgling and struggling day schools, one in Jerusalem (Makor Hatikva) and one in Tiberias (Peniel).

What these schools would need is support: financial support, manpower, facilities, teachers, pastoral backing, etc. Almost all of the problems that Israeli Messianic Day schools would face could be dealt with by prayer, financial support, and backing of the congregations.

The problem is first a change of worldview. The second is the support of the pastors. And the third is money. Lots of money. It takes money to raise a family. It takes money to run a day school.

There are particular challenges from seventh to twelfth grade. We can’t stop at sixth grade, for in seventh is when the stronger moral temptations start. We must offer our children an alternative from kindergarten to graduation.

6. There are Benefits
Imagine if there were strong Messianic Day Schools in all of the major cities in the country; and then with extensions in all other living centers. They could be sources of jobs for believers, unity in the body, strength to the congregations, and could raise up a generation of young champions, ready to bring blessing and revival to the entire nation of Israel.

It’s not a question of whether our children can “survive” in an Israeli secular school, but rather of choosing the best way to raise our children in the “holiness and admonition of the Lord.”

Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.

He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.

Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.

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