Edah Haredit celebrates 30 years of independent school system

The Edah Haredit school system refuses to accept funds from the State of Israel for ideological reasons.

Haredim 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Haredim 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Some 20,000 boys aged eight to 13 will descend on the road leading to Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood at midday on Monday to mark the 30th anniversary of an independent school system that refuses to accept funds from the State of Israel for ideological reasons. The boys will congregate at the Tamir wedding hall and then walk toward the adjacent Kiryat Sanz neighborhood. As a result of celebrations, Rehov Shefa Haim, which connects Kiryat Sanz with central Jerusalem, will be closed. Created by Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, the spiritual leader of Satmar hassidism after the Holocaust, the Keren Hatzola (emergency fund) foots the bill for an extensive school system that teaches a curriculum based solely on traditional sources such as the Bible, Mishnah and Talmud. Teitelbaum established the fund in 1978 after prime minister Menachem Begin's government, as part of a deal with haredi politicians, began offering substantial funding to educational institutions belonging to ultra-Orthodoxy. Satmar and other hassidic sects such as Toldot Aharon and the more virulently anti-Zionist Lithuanian streams of Orthodoxy, all consolidated under the rabbinical body known as the Edah Haredit, refuse to cooperate with the Jewish state, which they see as a rebellion against God's will that Jews remain powerless and sovereignless until the coming of the messiah. Members of the Edah Haredit do not participate in elections, either. The rally and commemoration will take place three days before the 2008 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. The Edah Haredit, which was in past years spearheaded anti-gay parade protests, has decided not to stage demonstrations against the march this year. However, a source close to the Edah Haredit told The Jerusalem Post that speeches at the 30-year-anniversary ceremony would mention the parade. "We will be emphasizing what we are doing to strengthen the holiness of the Jewish people through our education, in contrast to those people who are desecrating Jerusalem's holiness," the source said. The Keren Hatzola helps fund more than 100 institutions, including in Beit She'an, Ashdod, Safed, Haifa and Beersheba.