A professor of
Bar Ilan University’s faculty of Jewish studies kicked out an undergraduate
student from Talmud class earlier this week for not wearing a kippa.
incident sparked controversy when a classmate, Zohar Ben Shatach, posted a
comment on the university’s facebook page which said: “How is it possible that a
lecturer tells a student to get out of class for not wearing a kippa, and the
university backs that teacher?"
Hundreds of comments from outraged students
followed in defense of the student in question, who has not been named and could
not be reached for comment. Many participants of the discussion called the event
The University itself replied to the thread saying
that all students signed a form when starting their studies which obligates them
to wear head coverings in Judaism courses.
“Not all professors enforce
this rule, but those who do, do so faultlessly,” the institution wrote on the
Bar Ilan University later on released an official statement saying
that: “According to university rules, male students are obligated to wear a
kippa in all Jewish studies classes. The obligation to wear a kippa in classes
where religious texts are taught is made to honor the Jewish tradition and values
of the institution.”
“It should be noted that this is not the first
time that students seek not [to] wear a kippa in class,” the text continued, “In
these cases there is communication with the students and efforts are made to
find a settlement that will allow them to take classes where kippas are not
Every student graduating Bar-Ilan University is required to
complete seven courses in Basic Jewish Studies throughout their three years of
BA studies, according to the institutions’ rules.
The professor, Dr. Haim
Talbi, did not wish to comment on the issue.
Bar-Ilan Talmud scholar Dr.
Jeffrey Woolf defended his colleague in an article published this week on an
Israeli news website and wrote: "There is something terribly disingenuous (and,
perhaps, hypocritical) about the attacks on my colleague. The same people who
scream ‘Religious Coercion’ would not hesitate to remove their hats if so
requested, when entering a lecture hall at Gregorian University in Rome.”
all," Woolf continued, "one must respect the venue in which one finds oneself. However, when a
professor requests a student to offer respect to Jewish sacred texts by donning
a kippa (and its legal standing is quite irrelevant), all Hell breaks loose."
Bar-Ilan University wrote that it remains committed to
“narrowing the gap between religious and secular Israelis by giving them a
common language, the language of Jewish tradition.”