Emmanuel parents face jail time

Parents who won't follow court ruling will face two-week imprisonment.

By JONAH MANDEL
June 15, 2010 11:54
4 minute read.
Haredim at the Emmanuel 'pirate' school court hear

Haredim court 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Emmanuel parents who will not inform the High Court of Justice in writing by Wednesday that they will follow the court's ruling, forcing them to return their girls to the reunited Bei Ya'akov school, will be imprisoned for two weeks beginning on Thursday, June 18, according to the decision published by Justices Edmund Levy, Edna Arbel and Chanan Meltzer late Tuesday afternoon.

The dramatic conclusion of months of rulings, hearings mediation attempts follows a stormy hearing earlier on Tuesday at the High Court of Justice, in which the Slonim hassidic parents stated that they would not obey the court's ruling obliging them to send their daughters back to the school so long their rabbis objected.

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In their decision, the justices reiterated that the ruling comes in the face of the ongoing refusal of the parents to heed to the court. The decision stresses that the segregation in the school was on racial, and not religious, grounds. The justices also remind that the court had warned the parents that they could be imprisoned, and noted that the fines that had been imposed on them would be collected. The imprisonment could also end if a parent would commit in writing to following the court's decree.

Head of the panel of justices Edmund Levy had suggested in the morning hearing to the parents that the girls return to the Beit Ya'akov school for the remaining two weeks of school, and try to find a long-term solution over the summer vacation. The parents' attorney Mordechai Green then held consultations with the rabbis, presumably the Admor of Slonim, following which he told the court that in a conflict between the laws of Torah and those of men, it is the divine decrees that determine.

"I don't know of any legal duty for court rulings to receive the approval of some rabbi or another; I'm terrified by the fact that a rabbi instructs his community to act against a court verdict," head of the panel Justice Edmund Levy said in response. In the decision from later that day, the justices alluded to the hassidic parents' rabbinical adherence, and dryly stressed that “there is no need to note that our verdict [to imprison parents who do not follow the court ruling] is not subject to, or stipulated by, the approval of any exterior factor.”

At the end of the morning hearing, the haredi supporters of the Slonim parents in the courtroom were led in a unified cry of Shema Israel and God is our god (hashem hu ha'elohim), and then broke out in a song expressing the faith that malicious plots will be breached, since God is with us (utzu etza vetufar, ki immanu el). Court security at first attempted to evacuate the singing men, but eventually let them finish the song, after which they left the courtroom.

The court had ruled that the separate Hassidic track Slonim parents had initiated within the school, in which some 70 girls studied, was racist and illegal, and must be removed. However, once the separation was undone, the parents refused to return their girls to the school, unless the rest of the pupils accept and sign upon a stringent code of conduct and attire, an initiative that didn't succeed. As a result, at the instruction of their rabbi the parents instead sought alternative educational frameworks outside Emmanuel, that were more suitable to their religious outlook.

Parents' lawyer: P
arents should be liable to penalization for contempt of court

Mordechai Green, the attorney representing the hassidic parents, told Radio Kol Chai before the court's decision became public that the parents should be liable to penalization for contempt of the court, since the petition, filed by Yoav Lalom and the Noar Kahalacha nonprofit organization, was not against the parents but rather the Independent Education Center (Hinuch Atzma’i), under which the school operates.

The Independent Education Center, in adherence to the court ruling, had instructed all the parents to return their girls to the reunified school. The notion to hold the parents in contempt of the court, Green said, only came after the court summoned them for testimony, and if the charge of contempt is not applicable to the original defendant, the Independent Education Center, it should not be used against the parents.

Attempts within the haredi world to reach understandings on the issues pertaining to racial discrimination in the Independent Education Center were still underway even as the court reached its decision.


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