Court okays private school in Emmanuel

High Court approves Education Ministry’s proposal that children of the “hassidic stream” be allowed to study in a separate school meant to preserve the religious strictures.

September 15, 2010 05:14
2 minute read.
Haredi girls.

haredi girls 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday approved the Education Ministry’s proposal from last month that children of the “hassidic stream” who were enrolled last year in Emmanuel’s Beit Ya’acov girls’ school be allowed to study in a separate school meant to preserve the religious strictures observed by their parents, most of them disciples of the Slonim rebbe.

At the same time, the court warned the ministry that it would have to closely regulate the new school’s policies, to ensure that no forms of discrimination prevail there, and proceeded to call on the sides to the recent year’s dispute to make peace with one another, in the spirit of the High Holidays.

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Unlike other schools that are exempt from the Compulsory Education Law and are not recognized by the ministry, the new school will not receive any state funding for the coming school year. Most exempted schools receive 55 percent funding.

That fiscal arrangement will be in place for the first year, after which the school may ask the state for money. The court also warned the local council that it may not fund the school.

“When the Education Ministry contemplates providing a permit for an exempted school, it must ensure it is not helping establish an institution that is not set up to exercise a uniqueness, but rather to perpetuate discrimination, by keeping away those the establishers see as unworthy, or inferior to them,” the justices warned in their ruling.

“The questions the court raises in its decision, regarding the Education Ministry’s conduct in the affair, speak for themselves,” attorney Aviad Hacohen, who represents Lalom and Noar Kahalacha, said in a statement.

“The High Court of Justice stresses that even in the future it will not be clear what justification there could be to fund an isolationist institution, like the hassidic track, and even determines that the attempt of the local council to provide it indirect funding could be considered criminal conduct. Nothing needs to be said beyond these statements, which speak for themselves.”

A proposal to open a private school was first made in March, but it was not discussed in depth because it was the middle of the school year.

The Education Ministry said that when weighing the decision, it attached great importance to the parents’ desire “to educate their daughters in a religious, hassidic community educational framework that has its own spiritual leaders, as well as its own unique attributes.

“The debate over the fate and conduct of the Beit Ya’acov school in Emmanuel is concluded for the time being,” the justices wrote at the end of their decision. “It is a shame that the hope expressed by the sides and their rabbis, that a Succa of peace will stretch over Emmanuel and its residents in the spirit of ‘the tribes of Israel together’ – has yet to be realized.

But it’s not too late.

“Therefore, in the midst of the High Holy Days, we call upon all sides involved – do as you say – the offenders should ask the forgiveness and absolution of those they hurt, and all will take upon themselves the directive to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’” the justices said.

Ben Hartman and Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.

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