Court to rule on Emmanuel moms

Attorney General suggested incarceration be waived.

By JONAH MANDEL, ABE SELIG, JPOST.COM STAFF
June 19, 2010 22:04
3 minute read.
Haredi protesters in Jerusalem

haredim protest emmanuel 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The High Court of Justice on Sunday will decide whether to enforce its order to imprison the mothers from Emmanuel, who did not show up on Thursday for the beginning of their two-week incarceration.

Twenty-two mothers and thirty-five fathers were supposed to begin two-week jail terms for holding the court in contempt, after they refused to return their daughters to the school, once the walls dividing between the “hassidic track” and the rest of the schools 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.

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The court ruled that the segregation within the school was illegal as it was racially motivated, evident in the fact that it divided between Sephardi girls and the Ashkenazi ones from Slonim hassidut families. The Slonim parents insisted that the motivation behind the separation was religious stringency, and as proof cited the fact that a number of Sephardi girls were accepted to the hassidic track. Three Sephardi fathers were among those imprisoned on Thursday.

A few of the missing mothers are pregnant, some are breastfeeding, and most have many children. Devora Fuksman, one of them, gave birth to a girl on Thursday night. Her husband, Yehuda, stayed by his wife during the birth of his twelfth child, and reported to the Maasiyahu Prison on Friday morning. Two more fathers still have not reported to jail.

Welfare Ministry tells Attorney-General to consider the children

After the parents' lawyer requested that the mothers not be jailed, the Attorney-General met with representatives of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, who advised him to take the children's welfare into consideration. The ministry is prepared to take care of the 250 children whose parents were sentenced, and has appointed a social worker to each family.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has already recommended that the Court waive its order to incarcerate the mothers of Beit Ya'acov school pupils.

Late Thursday night, Weinstein held a meeting at the Justice Ministry, in which he praised the police on their non-violent behavior during the protests accompanying the jailing of the Emmanuel fathers.

On Friday, Yoav Laloum and the Noar Kahalacha NGO that originally petitioned the court against the racist division in the Beit Ya'acov school, requested of the High Court to free the fathers.

"Incarceration is not an effective way to enforce the High Court's decision in this matter," they wrote in their new petition. The court did not convene for a discussion on the matter on Friday, and said it would debate the issue on Sunday.

Later that Friday, the young boys whose fathers are imprisoned showed up at the gates of the Ma'asiyahu Prison in their Shabbat finest, to strengthen the spirit of their missing parents. The boys and adults who brought them there held signs wishing the fathers a “git Shabbos” and expressing their support. They also sang traditional Slonim Shabbat tunes and danced. Their request to enter the prison to meet the fathers was turned down by the Prisons Service.

MK Yohanan Plessner (Kadima) called on Saturday for the prime minister and the education minister to remove Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) from office, who on Tuesday had announced that he would move his offices to the gates of the jail where the fathers are being held. Plessner said that it was unacceptable that MK Porush would use his office and government resources to lead a protest against a ruling of the High Court.

In a similar reaction to Porush's expression of discontent from the court's ruling, MK Nitzan Horowitz issued a statement inviting “Porush and his friends, who hold the Zionist State and its rules in contempt, to leave the government and put an end to the suffering they undergo when accepting fundings and supports from the state they do not recognize.”

“Porush's stance does not represent the Ministry's,” Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told Channel Two on Saturday, in response to his deputy minister's stance against the court's ruling and in support of the parents right to heed their rabbi. Sa'ar further noted “the quiet and non-violent demonstrations” on Thursday, which were “a manifestation of the legitimate right of protest.”


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