Sa'ar slams kollel stipend bill, calls for haredi dialogue

Education minister announces tighter supervision of core curriculum in state-funded schools.

November 10, 2010 20:17
2 minute read.
European Council of Jewish Communities

Gideon Sa'ar at ECJC in Berlin 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar slammed the proposal to legislate funding for kollel students on Wednesday, while calling for a comprehensive dialogue with the haredi sector.

“The [kollel stipend bill] is a bad proposal; it perpetuates poverty and diminishes the value of labor,” he said during the Sderot Conference for Society.

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“Do we believe in these values? They are Jewish values, ones Maimonides wrote about,” he noted.

The minister stressed that he would object to the proposed bill, penned by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), but spoke of the need to reach understandings with the haredim through “comprehensive dialogue, including a variety of topics pertaining to the haredi sector.”

“It is more important to see the general context,” said Sa’ar, who is from the Likud Party.

“We must stop operating by the ‘salami method’ – slice by slice – as regards legislation and decisions affecting different sectors. Otherwise Israel’s future will continue to be compromised.”

In the same vein, Sa’ar reiterated on Tuesday that his ministry would cut funding from haredi schools that do not teach core curriculum subjects.

He noted that tenders had been issued to increase the number of supervisors enforcing that decree, a step which should, he said, fix the “destructive processes” shared by all past governments.

“The state is responsible for overseeing the execution of the minimum due, as defined by the state,” he said at the opening of the international Van Leer Education Conference on Teachers and Teaching Policies.

“I respect the uniqueness of different sectors in Israeli society,” he said of the haredim.

“There are different beliefs and it is not my intention, nor my will, to change that.”

But, the minister continued, “I won’t keep my eyes shut and thus facilitate the same destructive processes that all previous governments have taken part in; processes that encourage the breaking up of our society into tribes which have less and less in common. We must act to promote a society which, at its core, ensures shared values, joint responsibility and solidarity.

“This [conviction] formed the basis of my decision, one based on legal opinion, to correlate the extent of [core curriculum studies] in schools with the funding they receive from the state,” Sa’ar said.

“It was also the basis of my decision to add supervisors, ensuring that supervision becomes more than just a slogan.

Everyone must take the Meitzav exams,” used to measure growth and efficiency in the country’s schools, Sa’ar said. “It’s obligatory under the law.”

Sa’ar used the opportunity to address young people “who want to contribute to Israel’s society and its future,” and called on them to join the ranks of its teachers.

“With all the huge difficulties the profession entails, nothing has the capacity of teaching to shape a generation and influence the future of our children, and the entire society. We must continue cultivating the profession in all its aspects, from the school environment and adapting the various infrastructures, to discipline problems – and, of course, increasing teachers’ income,” he declared.

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