mass haredi riot bnei brak 311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Nothing less than the threat of closure can justify a Talmud Torah teaching core
curriculum subjects, a member of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages
According to Rabbi Shimon Ba’adani, head of the Torah VeChaim
Kollel in Bnei Brak and one of three senior Sephardi sages, headed by Rabbi
Ovadia Yosef, comprising the highest authority in Shas, even elementary- level
schools should refrain from secular studies, unless the fines they’d be subject
to from the Education Ministry would cause the school to close.
who spoke before hundreds of teachers and inspectors of Shas’s Ma’ayan Chinuch
Torani network on the topic some two weeks ago in Bnei Brak, was quoted
reiterating this stance in Thursday’s Yom Leyom, Shas’s weekly
General studies exist in Talmudei Torah, and not providing
them would constitute a breach of the state’s laws, which could provoke a
While primary and secondary girls’ schools in the haredi
“recognized but unofficial” educational system teach general subjects,
considered essential for the modern workforce, boys’ schools, from junior
high-age, do not.
There are currently two petitions pending before the
High Court of Justice, challenging the refusal of the haredi educational system
to teach core curriculum subjects.
The belated report of Ba’adani’s
address follows the publication of an article in last weekend’s Bakehila, a
haredi weekly, that cited the senior Sephardi rabbi as endorsing English studies
in Talmudei Torah, as a compromise with those demanding core curriculum studies
in the haredi schools.
Ba’adani was further quoted there as noting the
importance of a good command of English for rabbis who need to lead and educate
communities in the Diaspora.
Thursday’s Yom Leyom, however, slammed the
“irresponsible journalists who completely distorted Ba’adani’s sentiments, till
he appeared to endorse the teaching of core curriculum
Ba’adani was quoted in Yom Leyom as relating the problems
Talmud Torah principals shared with him, when they were fined by the Education
Ministry for not teaching secular subjects.
After consultations with
Yosef and the other members of the Council of Torah Sages, Ba’adani said, it was
decided that principals should be ordered to bar non-religious topics from their
institutions, so long they could withstand the fiscal penalties, “even
But if there are schools, “especially small ones, where every
fine could bring to the school’s closing, as per the principals’ testimony, then
secular disciplines should be taught there, but only in accordance with the
guidelines provided by the great rabbis of the Independent Education Center