Jerusalem mayor announces haredi branch for Bezalel art school

Nir Barkat says move is another breakthrough to aid the haredi sector in joining the labor market.

Bezalel Academy of Arts 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of SAANA)
Bezalel Academy of Arts 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of SAANA)
To encourage greater haredi participation in the labor market, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced plans on Tuesday for a wing at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design that will cater exclusively to the Orthodox sector.
Scheduled for completion in 2017, the sprawling $100 million, 37,000-square-meter complex will be located in the Russian Compound, between the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Museum of Underground Prisoners.
The Jerusalem Municipality and the academy selected the site.
The plans to add the haredi wing are going on in coordination with the Oman School of Art, which the municipality established in the capital in 1992 and which is the country’s only art school serving the haredi population.
The curriculum of the new department will be adapted to suit the lifestyle of the ultra-Orthodox sector and enable its members to study trends in architecture and art, Barkat said.
“Our initiative with Bezalel is another breakthrough to create institutions that will aid the haredi sector in joining the labor market,” the mayor declared in a statement.
“Establishing an Orthodox branch [at the academy] will maximize the professional potential of haredi students and meet the needs of all populations.”
Barkat announced the plans at a Jerusalem press conference Tuesday. In attendance were Bezalel president Prof. Eva Illouz; Yossi Sharabi, director of the municipality’s Administration for Culture, Social and Leisure Activities; and Rabbi Gabriel Stauber, the municipality’s director of religious culture.
The mayor noted that cooperation between the Oman School of Art and Bezalel would increase the number of Orthodox students able to study art in a professional setting.
“Jerusalem continues to lead the country by having the largest concentration of art schools, and now we are expanding to include the haredi sector,” he said.
In April, the Hebrew University’s secular student leaders launched a student- led pilot program called Yotzim Lilmod (“going out to study”) to assist former ultra-Orthodox men and women at the university in acclimating to college life, both academically and culturally.
The program matches 10 trained student tutors with 10 formerly haredi students, all of whom became secular within the past several years.