Ruach Tzeira –
a program for outstanding high-school students in the humanities
We believe in an Israeli society endowed with cultural depth, and a meaningful presence of a broad education. The ongoing decline of Israeli liberal arts education poses grave challenges to Israeli culture and public debate. In order to face this challenge, Israeli society must make better use of high school education, particularly in the field of gifted and outstanding students. Nurturing the humanities as a demanding and fulfilling field of study for gifted students is an important step in stemming the tide, as it would raise the status of the humanities within Israeli education, as well as setting a higher standard for liberal arts education for all Israeli students.
To develop a nationwide network of classes for gifted and outstanding high school students in the humanities. Each class will consist of students from several schools in a given city or region. The study program adapts the American Great Books program to an Israeli high school setting, involving intensive training in reading and writing skills. It will incorporate the traditional Jewish havruta mode of study as well as group discussions of the reading material. The subject matter consists of classical texts of Western civilization in the wide sense – including Arab civilization and a special emphasis on Jewish civilization as a basis of Western culture.
The interdisciplinary program Major Concepts in Western Culture was established in 2007, as part of the program for outstanding students in the humanities in the Israel Arts and Sciences Academy (IASA). The program is supervised by the Ministry of Education's Department of special Programs. It begins in 10th grade and continues for three years until the end of 12th grade. The program acquaints the students with fundamental texts of Western civilization and helps them acquire advanced reading and writing skills. The program is challenging and demanding, and thus suitable for students with a combination of motivation and ability.
As of 2023, there are thirteen classes of Ruach Tzeira for over 150 high school students in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Karmiel, Kineret, Gadera and the southern coastal plain. In addition, this year we opened a unique class for pupils from all around the country. In 2019-2020 we founded Bayt al-Hikma – an Arab program of Ruach Tzeira aimed specifically at Arab students and taught in Arabic. The program is supported by the Israeli Ministry of Education through its Division of Gifted and Outstanding Students. We also receive funding from the Dan David Foundation, Darca Schools Network and the municipalities of Jerusalem and Rishon Letzion. The National Library of Israel collaborates closely with us and frequently hosts our local activities, as well as national events and conferences for participants from around the country. The programs include regular weekly meetings, as well as field excursions and intensive seminars.