Petah Tikva parents protest 'uneven' absorption of Ethiopians

Begin open-ended strike of four state religious schools

ethiopian 88 (photo credit: )
ethiopian 88
(photo credit: )
Parents of pupils from four state-religious schools in Petah Tikva began an open ended strike Tuesday to protest the uneven absorption of Ethiopian immigrants in the city's religious elementary schools. The children were kept home from school and their parents have threatened not to return them until an agreement is signed. Seven hundred and fifty Ethiopian children have been absorbed by the city's state-religious schools and none by any of the other religious school networks, such as the private Shas or haredi schools, according to the parents. Another 100 Ethiopian families are expected to arrive after Pessah. "State religious schools are the only ones who take in immigrants. We view it as a national mission, like serving in the army. But others have to do their part too. Haredi schools have so far refused to take in Ethiopian immigrants," Nir Auerbach, head of the Morasha Parents Association and leader of the campaign, told Israel Radio on Tuesday afternoon. The four schools in question were Morasha, Ma'alot Hayim, Kfar Ganim and Netzah, where more than 2,000 pupils study. There are several other national-religious schools in the city. The parents claim that the other religious schools' refusal to take in the Ethiopians is tantamount to racism, and have reportedly planned a protest march through the city for 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon responded, "I promised the parents that I would do everything to rectify the situation. The private schools, including the haredi ones, must be part of this story. We cannot continue in this way." However, he added, "This strike is not right; the parents received a promise from me." Auerbach was unmoved and said the strike would continue. "As soon as we have a signed agreement, instead of a promise, we will return our kids to school," he said, "I call on the teachers of the other schools to absorb the students. They only enrich a school." According to Army Radio, the city said the Chief Rabbinate had mandated that all Ethiopians be educated at state-religious schools because they had not undergone a strict conversion.