Girls school in Emmanuel approved

School will not be state-funded and will follow strict guidelines.

August 25, 2010 17:48
4 minute read.
PARENTS FROM Emmanuel sing and dance yesterday at

Emmanuel 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)

The children of the “Hassidic stream” who were enrolled last year in the mixed Asheknazi- Sephardi Beit Ya’acov girls school in the haredi town of Emmanuel will be allowed to study in a separate school meant to preserve the religious strictures and customs observed by their parents, disciples of the Slonim rebbe, the Education Ministry informed the High Court of Justice on Wednesday.

However, 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.

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Furthermore, the original school will remain open next year for those who want to study there. When the school split into two, the majority of the girls remained in the regular, or “general” stream as it came to be known, and among them were some Ashkenazi students.

The third condition for establishing the new school was that it would not discriminate against anyone who wanted to enroll and who promised to abide by the rules of the school. “Any student, including from the ‘general stream,’ who agree to the regulations of the exempt school that will be established, will be accepted by the school,” the ministry promised.

A few years ago, the parents of the children in the Hassidic stream tried to establish a separate institution according to their own customs within the school. Yoav Lalom and the Noar Kahalacha organization petitioned the High Court, charging that the Ashkenazi parents were discriminating against the Sephardim.

The High Court agreed with the petitioners and ordered the Hassidic stream (which included some Sephardi children) to reintegrate with the rest of the students. Instead, the parents took their children out of school without permission, and established a pirate school of their own.

In response, the petitioners charged that they were in contempt of court. Although a temporary solution was found to satisfy the court until the end of the school year – only after the Independent Education Center, which administered the school, was fined and some of the parents were jailed, the contempt of court action remained unresolved.

The Education Ministry hopes that the court will accept this arrangement as satisfying the terms of the original ruling and that the court will close the contempt of court action.

The proposal appeared to satisfy the petitioners, although they described the new school as a “ghetto.”

According to a statement by attorney Aviad Hacohen, who represents Lalom and Noar Kahalacha, “We welcome the fact that the Ministry of Education insists on the importance of preventing discrimination of any kind, including ethnic discrimination, even in an exempted institution, and promises to enforce this according to the principle of multicultural pluralism and the right of every person to educate his children as he sees fit subject to the basic principles of equality and human dignity.”

On the other hand, said Hacohen, “we regret that all these people who keep talking about “love of Israel” do not continue to send their daughters to the existing school and prefer to isolate themselves and establish their own ‘ghetto.’” The petitioners and Emmanuel regional council have seven days to respond to the Education Ministry’s proposal.

In mid-June, 35 fathers of girls enrolled in the Beit Ya’acov elementary school were sent to jail after they refused to send their children to study with girls who were not in a separate hassidic study track.

The separate program was intended for girls who observed strict, Ashkenazi-oriented religious requirements, and the overwhelming majority in the study track were Ashkenazim.

While the dispute was largely framed as one of discrimination against Sephardi pupils, parents from the Slonim hassidic group said the separation was made because their members have a different way of life than the Sephardi families, and that racism was not a factor.

A proposal to open a private school was first made in March 2010, but was not discussed as it was issued during the school year. The Education Ministry said that when weighing the decision, it attached great importance to the desire on the part of parents “to educate their daughters in a religious, hassidic community educational framework that has its own spiritual leaders, as well as its own unique attributes.”

There are currently six primary schools in Emmanuel, a town of nearly 3,000 in Samaria. The ministry said on Wednesday it would continue to operate the Beit Ya’acov School.

The two other existing girls’ schools in Immanuel are the Chabad-Lubavitch school and the Ohel Rachel and Leah, under the Shas-Mayan network of Sephardi schools. The three boys’ schools are Chabad-Lubavitch, Shas- Mayan Sephardi and Hassidic.

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