(Photo: Dave Brown/Pears Foundation)

(Photo: Dave Brown/Pears Foundation)

By Abigail Klein Leichman - September 2, 2018

Afnan Abu Taha doesn’t want her two daughters feeling alienated from their Jewish peers as she did when growing up in an Arab village. She doesn’t want them to struggle with Hebrew as she did in college. Neither does she want them to lose their own identity, language, heritage and culture.

So she and her husband sent their girls to the Hagar School, the only Israeli public school in the Negev providing bilingual multicultural education.

Hagar is in Beersheva, close to the Abu Taha home in suburban Omer.

“I want my daughters to speak Hebrew fluently and to have Jewish friends and to feel we can live together and do things together for a peaceful future,” she tells ISRAEL21c in English, a language all Israeli schoolchildren study.

Hagar began in 2007 with a single kindergarten and now has 330 children from kindergarten to sixth grade. Administrators do some creative calendar juggling to provide the requisite number of instruction days despite closing for major Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays.

“When you hear the song played to signal the start of recess — alternating between an Arabic song and a Hebrew song — the children tear outside and play together and you can’t tell the difference between them,” says Hagar Executive Director Sam Shube.

Read More: Israel21c