As the country is embroiled in a debate about turning haredi scholars into
soldiers, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design
have launched a different venture: a haredi track at Bezalel’s prestigious art
The degrees in art and architecture will be offered at a
separate campus, currently in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Romema near the
entrance to Jerusalem.
But Prof. Yaarah Bar-On, the deputy president for
academic affairs at Bezalel, said the curriculum will be exactly the same for
haredi students as non-haredi students.
Haredi art students will not be
required to draw nude models, as the course is offered as an elective, but some
aspects that haredim might find controversial will be unavoidable, she
For example, required first-year course the Birth of Western Art
contains a large section on church artwork and architecture, something that
cannot be removed from the curriculum.
“The idea is that we will honor
their code of behavior, but with our fundamentals,” she said.
noted that the desire for high-level arts programs in the ultra-Orthodox sector
is already apparent in the plethora of haredi certification programs for graphic
design, interior design, fashion design and art.
Sixty female students
will start a year of preparation, or “mechina,” in the fall, focusing on art
history and technique, to ensure that they meet the same standards as other
students who apply to Bezalel. The school’s notoriously selective admissions
accept less than 15 percent of the students who apply, Bar-On said.
to the smaller nature of the haredi program, approximately 50 women are expected
to continue. In the fall of 2013, the women who pass the preparation year and
are accepted will begin their first year.
In the future, Bezalel hopes to
expand the program to other subjects as well as open separate courses for haredi
Bar-On said the school saw their separate haredi track as a
contribution to the state to help haredim enter the workforce.
think haredim are less intelligent or less talented, they’re asking for separate
things, and we’re honoring that,” she said.