A new elementary school opened this past school year in the Shomron community of Barkan under the administration of the Shomron Regional Council, the local government for 33 Jewish communities in the region. The school has been named for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s late father.
The Shomron has been recognized for its superior education system. Last year, the region was awarded first prize by the Ministry of Education. The Shomron region leads the country not only in education, but is the quickest growing area in all of Israel. Shomron population growth is 10% annually, which is almost 5 times the national average.
Barkan is located on Road Number 5, only 15 km east of Rosh HaAyin, where most of the residents are secular Israelis. This new school serves Barkan and two other non-religious communities in the area, Alie Zahav and Nofim. This first year, the school’s enrollment included 110 students in grades 1 through 3. Beginning next year, the school plans to “grow” older, adding fourth grade, followed by fifth grade the following year, and so forth.
Speaking at the dedication ceremony, Shomron Council Director Gershon Mesika remarked on the appropriateness of our community naming the new school in honor of Profesor BenTzion Netanyahu, who was a leader in both Jewish education and Zionism. He communicated his gladness at having PM Netanyahu with us for the occasion, taking an active part in the natural growth of our communities. He then issued a challenge to the Prime Minister.
“In front of the hundreds of students here who are relying on him, I call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to strengthen the Jewish communities of this region, as he promised to do before he was elected,” Mesika said. “Do not allow yourself to be pressured. Look at the pioneering work this wonderful generation has accomplished.”
“Remember,” Mesika added, “the command and last will of your father to continue building, and your promise to the voter. And remember this: peace does not mean withdrawal; peace does not mean stealing the home and childhood of a child. Real peace, as you have often said, means recognition of the rights of each side, willingness to live together side by side – not in the uprooting of communities.”
PM Netanyahu climbed onto the stage to join the school children singing Israeli folk songs and then spoke at the podium. He thanked the school’s principal, Sigalit Ben Eli, for her great work teaching the children here and for the beautiful ceremony. He thanked Shomron director Gershon Mesika for his dedication in developing this important region and representing its residents.
Minister of Education Rabbi Shai Piron spoke about his childhood reading the works of Professor BenTzion Netanyahu in the Hebrew Encyclopedia.
The new school in Barkan is one of five new school buildings and seventeen kindergartens and preschools opened in Shomron communities this year. This is a clear sign of the population growth and the need for more educational facilities.