Some 250,000 Israeli students, accompanied by hundreds of teachers and supervisors, are learning the entire Tanach and Shisha Sidrei Mishnah this week as part of a campaign calling for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
The project includes all children from the age of three to the 12th grade studying in state religious schools, as well as teachers, education students, school principals and supervisors. Each age group has received a collection of perakim of Tanach or Mishnayos.
The students will complete the material they were given during their spare time, and will then get a raffle ticket for a day of recreational activities with their classmates. Prizes include a day of extreme sports, a trip to an amusement park or a visit to the zoo.
“All students will study for the same purpose throughout an entire week,” explains Dr. Avraham Lifshiz, director of the Religious Education Administration.
“Each age group will be given a small section, but they’ll be part of something big. Naturally, the value here is not just studying, but also giving each student the feeling that he is devoting a part of himself.
“This project will take place during the state religious education week, in which we strengthen and support social deeds in state religious schools. We have been thinking what should be done for the struggle, and we believe spiritual contribution is the right way. It’s important that each child knows he did something for Shalit, and we hope this experience strengthens them and gives them a feeling of helping others.”
According to Lifshiz, a lot of thought was put into the prize as well. “We think it’s important to give the prize to an entire class,” he explains, “unlike the Bible Quiz or other contests in which the ‘prodigy’ students get prizes and glory.
“Here it will be an entire class – including the children who face bigger difficulties. Everyone will do what they can for the success of their class, and of course for glorifying the Torah.”
A graduation ceremony will be held at the end of the study week at the Great Synagogue in Yerushalayim in the presence of Israel’s chief rabbis. During the event, representatives of all ages will take the stage and present the chapters they studied.