Four decades ago, my wife Patty asked me, “Where are we going to send our children to school?” I knew that she was hinting at our starting a new school. She did not want to send our children, who were just approaching school age, to the public schools. She sensed that if we did so, they would be under an influence contrary to our faith and world view all day, five days a week. Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but we saw that unless we created a counter-culture we would lose our children to the dominant culture. This would need to be a culture that runs counter to the mainstream culture(s) in society – beginning with education. Patty convinced me, and we started our school and all our children attended.
The years since then have only convinced me even more, that one of the primary problems of the community of faith in the two cultures in which I have lived (Israel and USA), is that – for the most part – we did not create a counter-culture. It is one of the primary reasons why many of our children wander from our faith.
Formation of character and faith in our children goes beyond only having an education that is not contradicting biblical truth. It is also a matter of training our children to appreciate truth, beauty and goodness. The dominant culture now – with its gender confusion, its coarsening music entertainment and internet addiction – is creating a generation with a truncated development; one that does not easily appreciate the grandeur of God’s creation and the amazing beauty that is such powerful evidence for the existence of God. In spite of this, I have hope for an awakening of the believing community to create such a counter-culture that will help form strong, faith-full young people.
What is a counter-culture?
It is a culture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. In our case, a counter-culture will support biblical values and standards over against the non- and anti-biblical values and standards held and often enforced by the secular society today.
A counter-cultural movement – such as Bible-believing followers of Yeshua – expresses the ethos and aspirations of its members even in the face of a well-organized, resourced and defined mainstream culture. And here’s the thing: it is recognized that when counter-cultural forces reach critical mass, counter-cultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes. Creating and maintaining a counter-culture can bring about change in the mainstream.
In Israel, many parents are aware of the problem. There are two choices in Israel’s mandatory education; one is the secular system. In this system there is a culture of student disrespect for teachers and influences toward libertine ideas in sexuality. The other choice, modern Orthodox Jewish schools, has been chosen by some parents who are not Orthodox. The Orthodox do create a counter-culture to the larger secular culture in Israel. A few young people from the Messianic Jewish community have made it through the Orthodox system.
Creating an Alternative
What is the answer? There is now a Messianic Jewish school that has received government approval. This is a major start in the right direction. Government approval brings school tax support that funds 65% of the public schools. Some believing parents who send their kids to secular public schools are not yet aware of the level to which they have to debrief and re-educate their children to undo the influence of what is taught in those schools.
Please join us in praying to see Yeshua communities everywhere, including the Messianic Jewish community in Israel, become a light by creating this counter-culture.