Ashkenazim, Sephardim fail to agree on Emmanuel girls school

May 7, 2010 02:44
2 minute read.

The dispute between Sephardim and Ashkenazim over the Beit Ya’acov school for girls in Emmanuel has not been resolved, attorney Aviad Hacohen informed the High Court of Justice on Thursday.

Last week, the court gave the sides seven days to hammer out a compromise that would enable the Ashkenzi girls to return to the school, which they abandoned several months ago, under conditions acceptable to both sides and in accordance with an earlier High Court ruling.

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Three years ago, the parents of the Ashkenazi girls established a separate track, which they called “hassidic,” and effectively turned it into a separate school, with separate classrooms, entrances, playgrounds, teacher’s rooms and school uniforms.

The High Court ruled that the arrangement was illegal because it was based on ethnic discrimination and ordered the Independent Education Center to eradicate any elements of discrimination in the school.

Almost immediately, the parents of the hassidic stream yanked their children out of the school and established a pirate one – one without authorization by the Ministry of Education – in the building housing the Independent Education Center’s boys school.

Hacohen, who represents the Noar Kahalacha organization and its head, Yoav Lalom, soon filed a contempt of court action.

During a hearing last week, the court called on the sides to reach an understanding that would enable the Ashkenazi girls to return to the school and at the same time uphold the court ruling that there be no discrimination.

The two sides, the state and the petitioners on the one hand and the parents and the Independent Education Center on the other, met twice during the week but came up empty-handed.

Hacohen charged that the hassidim continue to insist that there be two separate tracks in the school and that the children of each track do not share any classrooms with those of the other track.

He said the girls of each track should only study separately when there is a good reason to do so, such as studies dealing specifically with the traditions of each group. All other studies during the day must be shared, he insisted.

He also accused the parents and the Independent Education Center of drafting a new constitution for the hassidic track that is once again discriminatory and that will deliberately prevent many Sephardim from joining it.

For example, any girl who wishes to join the hassidic track must promise not to visit the homes of secular relatives or friends, wrote Hacohen. He said this condition did not apply to the Ashkenazim because they and their families and friends were all haredim to begin with. Some of the Sephardim, on the other hand, were newly Orthodox or traditional, and they continued to have secular family and friends. This condition, therefore, was “disguised” ethnic discrimination, Hacohen said.

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