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Reflections on a talk by Bishop Rose Hudson Wilkin

The village's UK friends association organized an excellent talk by Bishop Rose Hudson Wilkin. She titled it "My story is your story" and it touched on many things. One of the inspiring parts of it touched on the real purpose of education. She said that when she had visited the Auschwitz death camp, one thing that struck her was that the whole enterprise was so state of the art; built by the best engineers, planned by the best doctors, etc. She asked, rhetorically, when we choose a school for our kids, how many of us have the idea that besides a commitment to providing "a good education" the school should produce good human beings and not just skilled professionals.

I suppose some parents might say that these are qualities the children should provide at home, but I think that if we are honest, most of us do feel influenced by our schools and our teachers. Without them, our world would be very narrow.

In the case of my partner and I, we found the village when we were looking for a suitable place to raise our children, and we liked very much that the village had its own education system where the children would be exposed to both Hebrew and Arabic, and that their schooling would be multicultural, in a natural way. At a certain stage, when I had considered leaving the country due to the possibility of being drafted into the army, I tried to find alternative communities in other countries. This was the late 1980s, and there were many such communities. But very few of them had managed to create their own schools, so I came to appreciate what we had managed to do in Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom.

The village school went up only to the age of 12. When, a few years later my daughter became disenchanted with her high school, I checked the possibility of enrolling her at the Krishnamurti school in Brockwood Park. We went for an "experience week" there and it looked like a great school. It would definitely qualify as the kind of education that Bishop Rose was talking about. But unfortunately it is outrageously expensive, strictly for rich kids; they didn't offer scholarships for the first year, and there was no way we could afford it.

If the Israeli army had not accepted my bid to be exempted as a CO, the best place for us would have been Auroville, which even then had its own schools. But I didn't know about Auroville then; this was all pre-internet, and obtaining information required a lot of letter-writing.