Should Russian be taught in schools
should russian be taught at jewish schools?
by Juri Galickij
I would like to rephrase the question: "Shouldn't Jewish schools in Germany teach Russian, considering the great immigration from the former Soviet Union?"
Let us first define the term "Jewish school in Germany". In my opinion it is a school that is part of the life of the Jewish community and that passes on knowledge, skills and Jewish and European values. The adaptation to the German school system is retained. The Jewish community consists of members who are parents in large numbers. Thus the Jewish school in Germany acts to a certain extent on the instructions of the parents.
Do parents want Russian lessons? Yes, it does exist with the Jewish parents who came to Germany from the countries of the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. They quickly realized that it was extremely important to learn the Russian language. The families of these immigrants are made up of three generations: grandparents, parents and children. Because the middle generation is in the middle of working life, the grandparents often look after the children. They learn German quickly and forget the Russian language step by step. The grandparents, on the other hand, have a hard time learning the German language.
But if the basic language is missing, cooperation between the generations of grandparents and grandchildren is not possible. This endangers the good togetherness of the entire family. The problem can be solved by learning the Russian language. Sunday schools where children can learn spoken and written Russian were quickly set up. In Frankfurt am Main, for example, there are at least six Sunday schools with Russian lessons. So, judging by this offer, there must be a demand for Russian, by and large it is the demand of the parents.
Can Russian lessons in Jewish schools in Germany be adapted to the state school system? Yes. In some German high schools you can learn Russian up to the Abitur - with an exam. Does Russian lessons harm Jewish schools in Germany because it goes against the Jewish educational tradition? By no means! In the Jewish educational tradition, a person is considered to be educated if he speaks several languages fluently. King Solomon already spoke many languages in the world. Our Jewish children should be able to do that too.
The Jewish school in Germany embodies the ideas of Martin Buber on the dialogue between cultures. That is why Russian lessons do not harm the Jewish school in Germany, but are useful for expanding the dialogue between cultures.
Now I can answer the question "Should Russian lessons be given at the Jewish school in Germany?" With a clear conscience with "Yes". Because teaching the Russian language in the Jewish school in Germany is the responsibility of the parents, and they are members of the Jewish community. Teaching Russian does not contradict the principles of the Jewish school in Germany and its educational tradition.
The question "Russian lessons: yes or no?" Has long been answered here in Frankfurt am Main: Russian is taught in the Jewish grammar school, the I.E. Lichtigfeld School in Philanthropin. Believe me, the first floor hasn't turned into the ground floor and the students don't do balagan because of Russian. You see, my dear readers, you have understood the Russian word "Balagan" without translation.
by Lena Gorelik
But of course my children should speak Russian one day. Master it, both in writing and orally. Preferably even better than me. It is very important to me to bring this culture of mine close to them. You should be able to switch back and forth between German and Russian, as you will do it between several computer games. Certainly they master the German-Jewish-Russian mix more elegantly and uncomplicated than me.
Every week, in addition to taking music lessons and sports clubs and whatever else there is until then, I will also take them to a Russian school that now exists in every major city in Germany. There you will learn to recite poems from the Russian classics, file away the German accent I have learned in Russian and, hopefully, also make greeting cards for International Women's Day on March 8, just as I did for my mother when I was a child.
These Russian schools arose out of a demand from Russian-speaking migrants, out of their understandable desire to bring their own language and culture closer to their children and grandchildren and thus make their own origins, their past, and even their self-identification understandable. In addition to these emotional motivations, there is the fact that in our society today it is of great professional advantage to be able to speak another language; and in contrast to English and French, not everyone can speak Russian. So there is nothing wrong with teaching Russian-interested children (or rather the children of parents with Russian affinity) in Russian schools.
However, teaching the Russian language does not belong in Jewish schools. As the name suggests, Jewish schools differ from other educational institutions primarily in that they place a special emphasis on everything Jewish: Jewish religion, culture, tradition, history, language ... If someone sends their child to a Jewish school, then they do it because it is important that it gets to know exactly these elements.
For some years now, when discussing any Jewish topic in Germany, it has been said that tribute must be paid to the fact that the majority of Jews living in this country come from the former Soviet Union - and rightly so. That is why Russian-language events are held regularly in every community, and that is why community papers and newspapers are also translated into Russian. Paying tribute to this fact cannot mean turning Jewish schools into Russian ones. In the Netherlands, Germans living and working there often send their children to American or French schools because these have the better reputation. And even if in certain regions or cities this means that the majority of a class is made up of German students, as far as I know, no one there has ever asked that German be introduced as a compulsory subject at a French school.
In connection with the recurring discussion about integration and coexistence in the Jewish communities, it is not clear to me how the introduction of Russian as a compulsory subject in Jewish schools can contribute to this. But not by "integrating" the non-Russian-speaking children, by now also learning Russian and therefore no longer dependent on German. Admittedly, from my very subjective point of view, Russian is a beautiful language that is well worth learning. But not so worth learning that I would oblige all Jews to learn it.
In contrast, if only the children with a quota refugee background are allowed to take part in Russian lessons, this will lead to a division that should be avoided by all integration efforts. The new generation, the hope of all of us, has the chance to no longer bear the problems that torment us so much in the churches today, maybe even they will not even be able to understand them anymore. We shouldn't condemn them to the same problems. The children who speak to each other in the school yards of the Jewish schools in an accent-free German should not be labeled "Russians".
What you want to pass on and teach your children is up to you. If the Jewish is important to you, you will send your children to a Jewish school. If Russian is important to you, your offspring should of course teach this language. Everything has its time, says the Torah. Everything has its place.
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