Emmanuel Parents in Color.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
All of the parties involved in the conflict over the integration of the Beit Yaakov school in Emmanuel are due to meet on Monday in the office of Education Ministry director-general Shimshon Shoshani for one last attempt to reach a compromise agreement on the integration of the school.
Last year, the High Court of Justice accepted a petition by Yoav Lalom and the Naar Kahalacha non-profit organization demanding that the Hassidic families, which had established a separate school with separate classes, a separate entrance, separate teachers’ rooms and separate school uniforms, must remove all elements of discrimination from the school.
Soon afterwards, the Hassidic parents removed their daughters from the
school and established an unauthorized institution. Several weeks ago,
they agreed to return to the Beit Yaakov school in the wake of court
hearings on a contempt of court action filed by the petitioners.
In the past few days, however, the Hassidic children have disappeared
again. After missing school altogether for a day or two, their parents,
based on instructions from their rabbis in the Slonim hassidic sect,
sent their children on Sunday to Beit Malka, a primary haredi girls’
school in B’nei Brak.
However, according to haredi sources, Beit Malka told the families
after one day that they could not return because the school principle
was afraid he might also be found in contempt of court for helping the
children and their parents sidestep the court decision ordering them to
return to the school in Emmanuel.
The dispute between the parents and the petitioners today revolves
around the terms of the reintegration of the school. Originally, the
parents told the court they would agree to send their children back to
the school, and would allow any other child to join the Hassidic
stream, as long they every agreed to certain conditions of behavior,
dress, social and family relations and other restrictions.
Immediately afterwards, 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
The petitioners refused the arrangement. They insisted on a single,
integrated school which 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 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 which would apply uniformly to all the students and their
However, the Hassidic parents rejected the regulations. They said they
would agree to a single, integrated school on condition that the
regulations were made far more stringent than those proposed by the
petitioners and the Independent Education Center.
Monday’s meeting at the Education Ministry is meant to reach a compromise on this matter between the disputing parties.
In a decision handed down on May 17, the High Court demanded that all
the parties submit updates on the situation by June 1. But the court
also made clear in that decision that “now that the girls in the
‘Hassidic stream’ have returned to the school, the Independent
Education Center must take steps to merge the streams. If it fails to
do so, it will be fined NIS 10,000 a day until all the girls, Hassidic
and Sephardi, study in one stream. As for the Hassidic parents, they
will have to declare by May 25 that they will continue to send their
children to the school even after the streams are merged. If they do
not, they will pay a fine of NIS 200 per parent each day until June 1.
If they continue to refuse after this date, the court will consider
sending recalcitrant parents to jail.”
Immediately after the deadline for receiving the updates, the High
Court will rule on whether the current position and actions of the
parties and the conduct of the parents over the past two weeks
constitute contempt of court. Since the children are once again out of
school, it is hard to imagine that with regard to the parents, the
court could decide otherwise.
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