Rabbis oppose imposing curriculum in haredi schools

Rabbinic leadership of Tekuma issues letter calling on Bayit Yehudi not to agree to imposition of core curriculum in haredi schools.

Haredi family 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Haredi family 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The senior rabbinic leadership of the Tekuma Party – a constituent of the Bayit Yehudi Knesset faction – has issued a letter to the party’s leaders calling on them not to agree to the imposition of core curriculum subjects in haredi schools and not to expand the electoral committee for selecting the chief rabbis.
Tekuma represents the more conservative element – both religiously and politically – of the national-religious political spectrum. The party is represented in Bayit Yehudi by MKs Uri Ariel, Eli Ben-Dahan, Zvulun Kalfa and Orit Struck.
According to a draft of the Economic Arrangements Law – a government bill presented alongside the budget – haredi schools will be hit with swinging cuts in funding if they do not dedicate a requisite number of hours to core curriculum subjects such as math and English.
The large majority of haredi schools teach very limited amounts of secular studies to pupils.
The four Tekuma rabbis – Dov Lior, Haim Steiner, Iser Kalonski, and David Hai HaCohen – took exception to the proposals in the arrangements law, saying that the study of Torah is a “source of life and oxygen for the existence of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
The rabbis said that everything should be done to strengthen Torah study in quantity and quality and added that they were calling on the Bayit Yehudi MKs to oppose the imposition of teaching core curriculum subjects in “Torah institutions.”
“It is unthinkable that we would be partners to the demands to harm the budgets of these Torah institutions, whether they are Zionist or haredi elementary schools, high schools or yeshivot.
“The independent [haredi] school system and haredi elementary schools should not be harmed, and the content of the education programs should be left alone to be according to what has been accepted for generations in the hands of those who guide this educational framework,” the rabbis wrote.
They also expressed opposition to expanding the committee that elects the country’s chief rabbis, as has been proposed by various MKs in order to dilute the power of haredi representatives on the body.
The rabbis said that “alien considerations” should not be given space within the election process for the chief rabbis, saying that such moves would erode the standing and validity of the chief rabbinate.
The conservative wing of the national-religious leadership is opposed to the candidacy for chief rabbi of Tzohar founder and chairman Rabbi David Stav, whose liberalizing tendencies are not in accordance with the views of the Tekuma rabbinical leadership.
Expanding the electoral body would principally favor Stav over other candidates currently considering running for the position.
It is the conservative rabbinical leadership that has pressured the party into exploring the possibility of nominating Rabbi Yaakov Ariel as the national-religious candidate for the chief rabbi position.
The chances of Ariel being nominated drastically dropped this week however, as the 76-year-old rabbi made a public admission that his age – beyond the maximum age of 70 – would pose a considerable legislative barrier to his running for the position.