(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The petitioners against the segregated girls’ primary school in Emmanuel told
the High Court of Justice on Thursday that the Education Ministry’s decision to
establish a separate school for the “Hassidic stream” only served to increase
the fragmentation of Israeli society and rewarded those who practiced
Last week, the ministry informed the court that it had
decided to approve a new school that would include rules and regulations in
keeping with the practices of the Slonim Hassidim who live in the
The petition, which was filed by Yoav Lalom and the Noar
Kahalacha organization, charged that the Hassidim, who until now had
enrolled in the same school with the Sephardi girls, had refused to
them and had set up their own separate school within the same
The court agreed with the petitioners and ordered the hassidic
families to remove all signs of a separate school and ethnic
Instead, the hassidic families withdrew their daughters
from the school and established a pirate institution.
The court found the
Hassidim and the Independent Education Center, a state institution that
administers the school, in contempt of court.
In the final week of the
previous school year, the hassidic parents agreed to send their children
the school to attend three study days together with the other students,
all would attend lectures by rabbis on Jewish unity.
however, was only temporary. The question remained. How would the
between the hassidic parents and the court be resolved? The state’s
to grant a permit for a new school in Emmanuel meant to serve the
of the Slonim community.
Before deciding whether the solution was
satisfactory and that, therefore, the contempt of court order would be
the High Court asked the other parties to submit their opinions on the
Attorney Aviad Hacohen, representing the petitioners, wrote
that the Education Ministry was not obliged to “grant a permit to every
that does not belong to the official school system or the unofficial but
recognized system in every situation.
Even if it wants to, it must first
give thought to which schools to approve and on what terms.”
reminded the court that in May 2009, when the Slonim Hassidim first
permission to open separate school, “the [ministry’s] director-general
assistants... said unequivocally that it was out of the question to open
school given the small number of children who want to study in it.”
director-general, Shimshon Shoshani, added that “if the Slonim Hassidim
school of their own, one subgroup after another will ask for their own
In its statement to the court, the Education Ministry did not
explain its reasons for permitting the opening of a new school contrary
policy going back many years, Hacohen charged.
Hacohen also wrote that
the ministry will not consider opening a new school unless at least
consecutive grades have a minimum of 22 children in the classroom. The
hassidic school does not have even one classroom like that, he said.
decision to establish a school for the Slonim Hassidim “emptied the High
ruling against ethnic discrimination of all meaning.
Permission to open a
new school in Emmanuel grants the stamp of kashrut, if not an actual
the trend toward ethnic separation, which is in violation of the law and
Court warning,” Hacohen said.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the
Education Ministry said that “the petitioners’ position reveals a
unexpected move to continue to prolong a conflict for which a balanced
fitting solution has already been found, a solution that was made in
with the High Court’s decision on the matter.”
The ministry added that it
was surprised by the petition, because “during the many discussions held
a solution, including in the courts, the petitioners announced that they
agree to the solution of establishing an “exempt” school for the
The “exempt” stream of schools is comprised mainly of talmudei
torah (haredi boys schools) that receive 55 percent of the normal state
and are expected to teach 55% of the core curriculum.
The ministry added
that the contention that there is no budget for the exempt institution
contrary to the reality of the situation.”
The ministry said that the new
institution was given a license after it was found to fit the necessary
criteria, the same as is done for all other schools.Ben Hartman
contributed to this report.