Ashkenazi-haredi girls school improves on discrimination

In letter to Education Ministry, principals of secondary schools respond to scathing State Comptroller's report alleging bias.

By JONAH MANDEL
July 8, 2011 05:14
2 minute read.
Haredi girls.

haredi girls 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Nearly two months after a scathing State- Comptroller’s report on the topic, principals of the secondary Ashkenazi-haredi schools for girls and the Beit Yaakov network sent a letter to the Education Ministry detailing the ways they were preventing racial discrimination in accepting candidates to their institutions.

The letter, which was dated last week and reached the media on Thursday, is part of an ongoing dialogue between the haredi state-supported secondary schools and the ministry, that became all the more urgent in the wake of the Emmanuel affair from last year – where the High Court of Justice in 2009 decreed that the Beit Yaakov school had discriminated against Sephardi girls.

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The recent report, which determined that the absence of clear and transparent guidelines can, and does, lead to racial discrimination in that educational system, called on the ministry to make “real changes” in how it supervises those institutions.

The main concern comes from within haredi circles, which are aware that a court could revoke public funding if racism is proved in an institution.

In very apropos timing, a pamphlet was distributed on Wednesday calling on the haredi public to donate to the private school that was founded last year, after the court agreed that Emmanuel might have a school for the hassidic track which didn’t easily accept Sephardi girls and was the casus belli for the court petition – but it would receive no public funding.

A similar campaign was launched in the Ashkenazi-haredi media. If this school closes, the ads warned, the “evil forces will learn that the way to defeat us is quietly... through our pockets.”



The lengthy letter, sent by the lawyers representing the amalgamation of the haredi principals, explains that “The haredi educational outlook does not differentiate between the time a student spends at her home and her duration in school.” Therefore, not only the scholastic level of a candidate is evaluated, but also the spiritual one.

The attorneys proceed to note in 16 clauses the ways the seminary principles accept students, while ensuring racial criteria is not employed.

Sources from within the Education Ministry noted that there was ongoing dialogue with the haredi political and spiritual leadership.

“The haredim themselves are dealing with this, first and foremost,” he said.

Attorney Yoav Laloum of the Noar Kahalacha NGO, who filed the petition on the Emmanuel school, said on Thursday that “the seminary principals understand that what was in the past will no longer be. The rope is tightening around their necks, and they won’t be able to continue and torture girls and families in enrolling processes, with strange and non-egalitarian claims.

“The principals said they are against discrimination, and in practice sort out girls according to ethnic criteria – a fact proven by the results. Under the instruction of the rabbis of our NGO we will continue to follow this issue and supervise it, until the phenomenon of racial discrimination in accepting girls to seminars is eradicated.”

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