'Lessons in Division'

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Shalhevet is the Jewish middle and high school located in a former hospital at Fairfax and Olympic -- a "modern Orthodox" campus where boys and girls attend class together and robust debate is expected. Everything and everyone, teachers included, is examined and judged. Then a newcomer began to ask questions about Israel and the Palestinians. As Barry Siegel elaborates in Sunday's L.A. Times, the school convulsed.

The students and faculty challenged each other all the time, usually with gusto. Democracy, parking lot privileges, off-campus conduct, teachers' manners — everything was ripe for debate. Only when Israel came up did acrimony replace gusto. The school's customary appreciation for nuances fell away, leaving a community riven by the clash of absolutes...

It's the kind of nuanced narrative feature at which Siegel excels, but that the Times seldom runs anymore. There's an online multi-media photo gallery that uses Flash, let it load. Photographer isn't credited on mine, but some readers see Francine Orr.


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