Amar mediating in Emmanuel controversy

Chief Rabbi tries to resolve segregated school - High Court clash.

By JONAH MANDEL, DAN IZENBERG
June 10, 2010 07:02
3 minute read.
Amar mediating in Emmanuel controversy

Amar 2 . (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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In yet another attempt to reach a compromise agreement over the integration of the Beit Ya’acov girls school in Emmanuel, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has begun conducting talks with the sides involved in the dispute, to see if there is enough ground to reach understandings that could prevent court penalties and the possible exodus of Slonim Hassidim from Emmanuel.

Following a request from Emmanuel Mayor Ezra Gershi, Amar has already met in recent days with Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, the spiritual mentor of Noar Kahalacha head Yoav Lalom, whose NGO has petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding that all elements of discrimination against Sephardi pupils be removed from the school, and representatives of the hassidim. Amar is due to conduct further meetings with Yosef, and perhaps with Lalom.

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The High Court, which was informed by Gershi of his initiative, will convene on the subject this Sunday. The court has not voiced a stance on the chief rabbi acting as a mediator, but has in the past encouraged the sides to reach a compromise.

Last year, the High Court accepted a petition by Lalom and Noar Kahalacha demanding that the hassidic families, who had established a separate school in the Beit Ya’acov building, with separate classes, a separate entrance, separate teachers’ rooms and separate school uniforms, must remove all elements of discrimination from the school.

Soon afterward, the hassidic parents removed their daughters from the school and established an unauthorized institution. Several weeks ago, they were told by the Independent Education Center (Hinuch Atzma’i) to return to the Beit Ya’acov school, after a contempt of court action was filed by the petitioners. Instead, they sought other schools outside of Emmanuel for their girls, at the instruction of their rebbe. The hassidic parents face being fined for contempt of the court.

The dispute between the parents and the petitioners now revolves around the terms of the reintegration of the school. Originally, the parents told the court they would agree to send their girls back to the school, and would allow any other child to join the hassidic stream, as long as they agreed to certain conditions of behavior, dress, social and family relations and other restrictions.

Immediately afterward, however, they insisted that the “integrated” hassidic stream would continue to remain completely separate from the other stream at the school. The difference was that any child could join the supposedly integrated hassidic stream if she accepted the restrictions.

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The petitioners refused the arrangement. They insisted on a single, integrated school that could have a few special, separate classes where different groups of students could study their own particular background and culture, but that there would be only one stream and that in most of the classes, there would be no differentiation among students.

Together with the Independent Education Center, which administers the school, they drew up a set of regulations regarding conduct and other matters that would apply uniformly to all the girls and their parents.

However, the hassidic parents rejected the regulations, saying they were not stringent enough.

Meanwhile, the heated intra-haredi debate on the topic continues.

Lalom recently fired back at Slonim Hassidim, who allege that he is funded in part by the New Israel Fund, and in an emotional interview on Radio Kol Hai, claimed the hassidim take money from The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

A spokesman for the fellowship explained to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that it does support a program in Emmanuel aimed at promoting employment, but the program is not intended for a specific stream or sector there.

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