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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A rabbinical court arbitrating between Yoav Laloum and the Slonim Hassidim of Emmanuel on Sunday ordered Laloum and his Noar Kahalacha NGO to withdraw the petitions they filed with the High Court of Justice, and prohibited ethnically segregated classrooms throughout the Independent Educational Center.
Laloum had petitioned the High Court against the segregation in the Beit Ya’acov school, and later against the parents, who were held in contempt of court for not obeying its ruling to return their daughters to the school once the separate tracks were reunited.
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The verdict of the three-man Beit Din Tzedek Jerusalem, headed by Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin, stressed that “all the students in the Independent Education Center must be united together [in the upcoming school-year], unless this court rules otherwise.”
The rabbinical court also prohibited the Slonim Hassidim from inflicting any “verbal or physical harm” on Laloum.
Laloum confirmed to The Jerusalem Post late Sunday night that he would withdraw his petition against the parents if they acceded to the beit din’s terms, and pending the High Court’s acceptance of the overall deal.
The Slonim Hassidim had taken Laloum to Levin’s court after he claimed some 10 days ago that they had accepted funding from The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
On Sunday, perhaps following spiritual mentor Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef’s Saturday night announcement that he was ceasing his activities against ethnic discrimination in Emmanuel due to threats made against him, Laloum accepted Levin’s arbitration.
The rabbinical court, like the High Court, prohibited dividing the school.
Shas officials expressed satisfaction with the ruling, saying it upheld what party mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had been saying all along.
“We wish that all the parties involved would have chosen the path of moderation to begin with instead of involving the courts and letting the whole thing get out of hand,” a Shas official said.
Yosef had repeatedly spoken out against “those who seek counsel from secular courts,” and on Saturday night declared that such people “have no place in the afterlife.”
The United Torah Judaism faction still intends to hold its weekly meeting on Monday outside Ma’asiyahu Prison, where many of the recalcitrant fathers are incarcerated, instead of at the Knesset. The faction is expected to decide during the meeting whether to accept the ruling of the rabbinical court, and how to proceed in this effort.
Earlier on Sunday, the High Court of Justice put off issuing its ruling on whether to imprison the mothers from Emmanuel. It will reach a decision on the matter during a closed hearing on Tuesday.
In its announcement, the court stressed that despite their claims, the parents were well aware of the verdict ordering them to prison issued last Tuesday, and “despite them being provided with many opportunities to fulfill it without coercion, they acted in various ways to thwart [the ruling].”
The court also noted that it took into account requests from parents to cancel or postpone their imprisonment, but fined each of them NIS 5,000 for filing those requests on Friday, after they were supposed to have turned themselves in on Thursday.
The court also noted the “irregular remarks” against the court and especially one of the justices, referring to Edmond Levy, which were voiced “as part of the legitimate public discourse,” including by public officials.
“The attorney-general is requested to examine whether these are to be considered contempt of the court,” the High Court’s decision read, “and to instruct the public officials in accordance with what is necessitated by their status and position.”
Twenty-two mothers and 35 fathers were supposed to begin two-week jail terms for refusing to return their daughters to the school once the walls dividing the “hassidic track” from the rest of the school were removed at the court’s order. Most of the fathers involved showed up at the police station on Thursday and began serving their time.
The court ruled that the segregation within the school was illegal, as it was ethnically motivated, evident in the fact that it divided between Sephardi girls and the Ashkenazi ones from Slonim hassidic families.
The Slonim parents insisted that the separation was religiously motivated, and as proof cited the fact that a number of Sephardi girls had been accepted to the hassidic track.
Three Sephardi fathers were among those imprisoned on Thursday.