Who would believe it?

“The Jewish school where half the pupils are Muslim”

The Independent (UK),

[What follows is a summary of above article.]

The King David School, in Birmingham, England is a state primary (elementary school) where the children learn Hebrew, recite Jewish prayers, eat kosher food and wave Israeli flags. So how come the majority of pupils are followers of Islam? King David is a strictly Jewish school. Judaism is the only religion taught. There’s a synagogue on site. The children learn modern Hebrew, the language of Israel, and they celebrate Israeli independence day.

But half the 247 pupils at the 40-year-old local authority-supported school are Muslim, and apparently the Muslim parents go through all sorts of hoops, including moving into the school’s catchment area, to get their children into King David to learn Hebrew, wave Israeli flags on independence day and hang out with the same people whom some would have us believe that they hate more than anyone in the world.

The Muslim parents, mostly devout and many of the women wearing the hijab, say they love the ethos of the school. The school is also respectful to Islam, setting aside a prayer room for the Muslim children and supplying Muslim teachers during Ramadan. At Eid (a Muslim holiday), the Muslim children are wished Eid Mubarak (Blessed be Eid). Muslim students are allowed to wear a traditional Muslim head covering, but dozens choose instead to wear the Jewish skullcap, the kipah.

Muslim parents are not shy about telling observers why they love this Jewish school. “We actually bought a flat in the catchment area for the children to come here,” says Nahid Shafiq, the mother of Zainah, four, and Hamza, nine, and wife of Mohammed, a taxi driver. “We were attracted by the high moral values of the school, and that’s what we wanted our kids to have. None of us has any problem with it being a Jewish school. Why on earth should we? Our similarities as religions and cultures are far greater and more important than our differences. It’s not even an issue.”

Muslim parents are pleased that “all the kids mix and go to one another’s parties and are in and out of each other’s houses”.

The Jewish parents and teachers too are just as enthusiastic. “You know, in these difficult times in the world, I think we show how things should be done. It’s really a bit of a beacon,” says one teacher, whose three children all went to King David and ended up at Oxford University.

One Jewish parent commented: “My son is eight and has loads of Muslim friends.”

Perhaps most important is that some cross-cultural friendships forged at King David last a lifetime.

March 12, 2007 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. I have some Druze background, but I would never go to a Moslem wedding. After they have kids, can you give their kid a puppy? No?! Nothing similar about the two cultures then.

  2. These may be cultural moslems who don’t speak (much) Arabic. Note that one family is quoted as speaking Gujarati. I doubt there are any philistines in that school, probably lots of Indians. Islam is multi-layered religion with many who are deceived at the bottom levels. That’s why it’s working, for now.. And if the Jewish families are raising their children to be in denial of the true nature of Islam, then it’s “really working”.

  3. If only the attitudes of the Muslim families who seek to have their children attend King David Jewish school were representative of the majority of Muslim voices, throughout Britain and the rest of the West that are so very often characterized by their stridency and anger and which denigrate and demonize Israel in such way that those words so very frequently cross the line into anti-Semitism.

    Utopian dreams of a world of peace, mutual tolerance, respect and brotherly love are just dreams as realities constantly underscore that a utopian world is very far from out grasp.

    In the little enclave of King David Jewish school however, it appears some progress is being made towards that utopian ideal. Unless however such attitudes gain wider attention and take hold, the fact and circumstance of very positive Jewish – Muslim relations at King David Jewish school that are based on mutual respect and tolerance will be remain anolmoly.

    The circumstances and experiences such as found at King David Jewish school however is one small reason to keep hope alive that a better world that approaches the uptopian ideal is possible, but reality tells us that realizing such hope is very very far away.

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