It appears that nothing less than divine intervention can prevent the imminent
two-week imprisonment of 43 couples from Emmanuel, mainly Slonim Hassidim, who
refuse to comply with the High Court of Justice’s order to return their
daughters to the Beit Ya’acov school, whose religious standards they believe are
not stringent enough.
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A massive rally will take place in Jerusalem’s
Romema neighborhood starting at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, led by both
hassidic and Lithuanian rabbis. In a rare move, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the
supreme halachic authority for Ashkenazi haredim, said he would attend, making
it likely that the turnout would be huge.
Elyashiv has ordered all
yeshiva and kollel students to participate, a rare move as it requires them to
suspend their study.
A smaller demonstration will take place at the same
time in Bnei Brak.
The Emmanuel parents will be at the Jerusalem
demonstration. Following the rally, they will walk, presumably accompanied by
much of the crowd, to the Russian Compound. From there, the men will be taken to
Ma’asiyahu Prison, while the women will be taken to the Neveh Tirza
“We will enter prison happily, since by doing so we will be
sanctifying the name of God publicly,” Rabbi Avraham Luria, a Slonim hassid
facing prison time, told The Jerusalem Post
in a hoarse whisper Wednesday night.
“These are historic moments that will be studied by future
Several months ago, the court had ruled that the physical
separations in the Beit Ya’acov that had been built to accommodate the more
stringent track that the Slonim parents had initiated, in which some 70 girls
studied, was illegal.
But once the barriers were removed, the parents
refused to return their daughters to the school unless the rest of the pupils’
parents agreed to a very stringent code of conduct and attire, an initiative
that didn’t succeed.
During the Tuesday hearing, the Emmanuel parents
told the High Court that their rabbis’ orders took precedence over the those of
the court. Later that day, the panel of three justices decided to send the
parents to prison for refusing to send their daughters back to the
Asked by the Post
who will look after the children whose parents
face incarceration, Luria said that he wasn’t sure, since the brief period since
the court’s decision left them with little time to prepare, but neighbors and
family members will do their best.
There is a chance that the parents
will bring their children with them to the Russian Compound, but a decision on that had yet to be made last
“We are sorry that Justice Edmond Levy crystalized the hearing
into the question if, God forbid, the court is superior to the Torah. Since he
put it like that, the answer is clear following the order ‘and you shall do all
that you are ordered to do’ [by rabbis],” Luria added.
prevent the imprisonment of the 86 parents were under way throughout Wednesday
and into the night. Former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri presented the Slonim
Hassidim with a proposal under which the girls would return to the school for
the remaining two weeks on condition that efforts were launched to open a
private school for them for the next school year.
It was unclear whether
the hassidim would accept such an offer, and whether the court would accept this
compromise as sufficient to cancel the imprisonment order.
Education Minister Meir Porush will be meeting with President Shimon Peres on
Thursday morning and will raise the Emmanuel affair. The meeting was arranged
over a week ago, but Porush is expected to ask the president to intervene, which
the latter could do, if he were so inclined.
Though haredi politicians
have declared that Thursday’s protest will unite the entire haredi street, it
isn’t clear how many Shas members or other Sephardi haredim will be at the
protests, though their leadership has decried the court ruling.
shocked by the fact that they [Yoav Lalom and Noar Kahalacha, an NPO] went to
court,” Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef told Radio Barama on Wednesday,
referring to the original petition against the splitting of the Emmanuel school.
“It’s not something that is done.”
Ironically, Yosef’s son, Rabbi Ya’acov
Yosef, was the driving force behind Lalom’s petition, which charged that the
segregation in the Beit Ya’acov school was on ethnic grounds, a claim the court
Shas Party Chairman Eli Yishai expressed his shock in the
upcoming weekend’s Yom Leyom over the court’s decision to imprison dozens of
Torahlearners, just because they dared to listen to their rabbis. He linked the
ruling to another court decision, from Monday, that deprived kollel students of
minimum income-guarantee payments, a further blow to the Torah world.
neither Ovadia Yosef nor Yishai called on their followers to join the protest,
and Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi on Wednesday evening explicitly
called on Shas members not to demonstrate.
The Jerusalem rally is
expected to result in several hours of blocked roads and traffic disruptions.
Following riots in Jaffa on Wednesday over archeological excavations, police
said they are also preparing for the possibility of nationwide disturbances by
Police Insp-Gen. David Cohen ordered the police’s head
of operations, Cmdr. Nissim Mor, to draw up plans to confront rioters if
“At this stage... the Israel Police is attempting to go down
the path of dialogue and to try and prevent the looming demonstrations,”
said in a statement Wednesday.
“We call on the heads of the haredi
community to show responsibility and ask members of the community to act
restraint. The Israel Police allows the holding of protests but does not
acts of assault or disruption to the peace.”
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, in his first public comments on the situation in Emmanuel,
restraint at a time when Israel was facing “existential dangers.”Yaakov
Lappin and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.