In this paper the questions connected with Jewish students are discussed. Often Jews as ethnic minority have a lack of attention to their problems and it takes place among non-Jews and Jews too. It is a well-known fact that students of different nationalities face different problems in educational process. Sometimes it can be the same problems but sometimes problems, which Jewish students face, are different from problems which are ordinary to students of other nationalities.
Multiculturalism has typically not included Jews and it causes certain obstacles for the effective educational work with these ethnical minorities and requires knowledge of their culture and the particular issues they face, it doesn’t seem as obvious that this might be true for Jews also. The aim of this paper is to discuss and analyze these issues. We should understand them in terms of multicultural education and also learn in what ways the challenges facing Jewish students are similar or different from those faced by Hispanic, African American, and Asian Pacific American Students. Question about Jewish students are disputable and is often discussed in different information sources.
First of all we should pay our attention to the fact that Jews are a minority. But this fact is not broadly acknowledged in our society. If Jews are considered to be numerical minority, they are determined to have a status of somehow “not counting”¯ as a minority. According to P. Langman (1995) “American Jews are considered to be so well integrated into American society that they no longer constitute a separate culture. If Jews are simply mainstream Americans, there is no need to include them in multiculturalism. This view is understandable; Jews often become so American that it is hard to see that any Jewishness remains. This is why the issues of assimilation and intermarriage are of such great concern in many Jewish communities. Yet many assimilated, nonobservant Jews still carry a strong sense of being outside mainstream American culture. Thus, despite appearances, Jews experience themselves as members of a minority culture.”¯
For a great regret, population is racially devised and in today’s racial divisions of Black, White, and Asian, Jews fall into the category of White. Recent historical development shows that Jews and their attitude to category of White is a problematic conception. It is important to mention that Jews and race are different notions; I mean that Jews is not a race, but only a nationality. First of all it is necessary to state that Jews do not constitute a race and there are Black Jews, White Jews, Asian Jews, Hispanic Jews, and Native American Jews. As I said before these Jews have been called a race and this is incorrect. In fact, a race cannot be joined voluntarily, whereas people can voluntarily become Jews. It is very important moment which shows us that it is incorrect to mix notions race and Jews.
There are many talks about Jews in our society and Jewish culture sometimes is used as a main argument in different disputes. That’s why I want to look at this moment more attentively. I have read a lot of information about this topic and in confirmation of my words I want to use one quoting from an article “Including Jews in Multiculturalism”¯: “Knowledge of Jewish culture is difficult to achieve because there is no single Jewish culture; there are many clusters of Jewish cultures. This is no different from the categories of Asian, Latino, or Native American. Each label includes a multitude of nationalities and ethnicities. Although this is not the forum for a course in Jewish cultures, some basic divisions can be mentioned.”¯ (Langman, P., 1995, Including Jews in Multiculturalism).
Jews students have some problems with their self-identity. I mean situations when some Jewish students who identify themselves as Jews at home and synagogue do not carry that identity into their place of study. At university they experience themselves as “Americans”¯; elsewhere, they feel as Jews. Also they are differing from other nations with their appearance. Perhaps, unlike other minorities, Jewish Americans are often not recognizable on the first glance. In such a way, they are probably less informed of their ethnicity throughout the day than members of other minorities are. This situation can create a difference not only in public, but also in private experiences of identity.
Students of different ethnic groups are different from the rest native country’s students and sometimes they suffer from the preconceived attitude to them in the educational process. Jewish students have the similar educational problems like Hispanic, African American, and Asian Pacific American Students. It takes place because they are not native inhabitants and they are different from other students by their language skills and material perception. I want to mention that Hispanic, African American, and Asian Pacific American Students have the same with Jewish students’ problems with American traditions and race division.
Jewish youth has a fear of visibility as Jews. This feature differ them from other category of students. Their ethnical fear brings big amount of Jews to keep a low profile and not attract attention to themselves as Jews. Historical examples show us that for a long time Jews were in danger and they tried in all possible and even impossible attempts to stay invisible. Jews goal was to fade into the crowd and be ordinary people. Now times have changed greatly, but this ethnical fear is absorbed from their parents and greatly influences on their ethnic behavior. Sociological survey saysĀ Ā that “Are you Jewish?”¯ ”“ is the most frightening question for Jews. Other nations don’t suffer from such questions and exactly Jewish students face these situations so hard. Why is this simple question full of horror for Jews? The answer is easy and needs no special awareness. This simple question makes be fearfulĀ Ā because Jews never know what will happen with them if they answer it truthfully and there are Jews who simply lie and say, “No, I’m not Jewish.”¯ The ethnical fear to tell truth greatly affects at the expense of self-respect and it does not promote the ethnical healthy nation forming. During World War II too many Jews were killed for nothing, simply for being Jews and even now many Jews don’t want to take any unnecessary risk and they deeply hide their origin.
Telling about Asian Americans, for example, we see that they in difference from Jews “according to Ogbu, voluntary minorities tend to do well in school because they see schooling as a necessary step to social mobility. They see themselves as guests in the United States who must live by the host’s rules. Furthermore, they interpret the cultural and language barriers that they face in the United States as things that they must overcome in order to succeed there. On the other hand, because of persistent economic and social discrimination, involuntary minorities do not believe in the possibility of social mobility. These minorities reject the dominant culture and develop an oppositional culture. In short, Ogbu argues that involuntary minorities underachieve in school because they view schooling as a threat to their oppositional cultures and identities. ”¯ (Lee, S. (1994). Behind the Model-Minority Stereotype: Voices of High- and Low-Achieving Asian American Students)
For my opinion Jewish students have also other challenges especially connected with their religion. It’s a pity, but sometimes not all people pertain respectfully for Jewish students’ religion and it forms difficulties in educational process. Anti-Semitism is a Jewish students’ real problem. This term is often used to describe prejudice against or hostility towards Jews. Anti-Semitic state of a public opinion is often rooted in hatred of their specific religion, culture, or ethnic background.The Academy for Jewish religion tries to help Jewish students and as we know “AJR accepts exceptional students, without regard to race, age, gender or sexual orientation, who commit themselves to the highest ideals of devotion to God, Torah and Israel. We make our efforts so that our students the freedom to explore experiment and struggle against their personal sense of Jewish life and with their own role in the larger Jewish community. A solid grounding in the vast richness of our multi-voiced tradition provides our students with the foundations for developing their own creative and inclusive visions that are destined to have a deep impact on the Jewish community. Our seminary’s preparedness to many views and our appreciation that the Jewish community is thirsting for innovation and vision makes AJR a uniquely exciting environment for nurturing our students and for challenging them to grow to become the spiritual leaders they want to be.”¯ (www.ajrsem.org)
Religion is not one issue that separates Jews from other nations. Many researches are worried about Jewish self-hatred. Jewish self-hatred can be compared with the feelings and emotions that other minorities experience. Some representatives of Jews are struggle against their own culture and hatred Jews. It looks like nonsense, but such situations also are found in American society. Many young people even attempt to change their appearance, their hair, their names, or their noses to be similar to Americans and want to be as far away from their nation as it is possible. Many others have in contempt of Judaism, Yiddish, or any manifestation of Jewish culture or religion. I was greatly impressed by the fact that some Jewish students do not identify themselves as Jews at all. These Jews would have no interest to studying Jewish issues and don’t pay any attention to them. The reason of such behavior is understandable and we can’t accuse Jewish youth in such attitude to their culture and multicultural issues. From early childhood children were victims of anti-Semitic comments, jokes, or even violent intimidating incidents. Child’s psyche is very sensitive to such insults and even now they remember that awful lessons from a childhood and don’t want to feel such attitude to their persons in their grown-up life. Ironically, Jewish youth is joining to the mainstream culture and they have become self-hatred persons. I don’t want to unite all Jewish students in one self-hatred group, but as the example indicates such situations take a place and we should talk about them too.
Thus, taking into account all mentioned above, it is possible to conclude that in many cases Jewish students face the same problems which are faced Hispanic, African American, and Asian Pacific American Students. This work has attempted to account for the lack of attention to Jewish issues in multiculturalism and has divided this aspect into several main directions. For a great regret the neglect of Jewish issues by non-Jews focused on the religion and cultural background, from one side. And from another side the neglect of Jewish issues by exactly Jews were taken into account as result of the bicultural split in Jewish identity, the invalidation of the Jewish experience, the fear of being visible as Jews, and Jewish self-hatred. For multiculturalism it is important to take into account Jews as an ethnic minority and to understand that knowledge of Jewish culture, Jewish history, anti-Semitism and religion issues are necessary in working with Jewish representatives and especially Jewish students. Multiculturalism is the ideal instrument for promoting positive Jewish development and extended intergroup relationships.
Towards the end I want to underline that “In view of the fact that the conflict of cultures has become oĀne of the most prominent risk factors for the sustainability and future development of human civilization, its dangerous implications are examined and ways to curb it and to replace it with an ethical and peaceful multicultural system are suggested. The new regional and global multicultural system would include ethical and peace values from various cultures, and it would be based oĀn the best of peace heritage, cultures and literature from various civilizations. It could be spread and promoted by telecommunications and the media, to counteract the regional and global culture of terror and violence. The establishment of an open global multicultural system and media can help to impart to humanity a new multicultural identity, in addition to national and ethnic cultures and identities, and it can guide humankind in making the world more secure.Ā The development of multicultural peace satellites over conflicted areas, which would spread the best of what, is available in neighboring cultures and civilizations at the regional and global levels would help to promote a peace climate. It would create bridges of understanding between people and nations and would abate the fear of the “other”¯. (www.peacefromharmony.org)