Parents of Emanuel Bet Yaakov Students Set to Go to Jail

emanuel-court Update below, and more here: Settlement in Emanuel Bet  Yaakov Segregation Dispute

The parents of the “Beit Yaakov Hasidi,” a breakaway girls’ school in the small West Bank town of Emanuel, were found in contempt of court last month for refusing to send their children to an integrated school. They have been sentenced to prison for two weeks, starting tomorrow. The case involves about 40 couples, of whom both parents will be incarcerated.

When I spoke with a mother from Emanuel a few months ago, she insisted that there was no racism because there were children of sephardic [North African] background studying in the break-away school. She claimed that the reason for the separate school was an influx of newly-religious parents into the community. The lifestyle of the newcomers [who were almost exclusively of sephardic origin] did not meet the religious standards of the existing parent body. When the original parents tried to force the newcomers into separate classes, the court ruled against them. The parents set up a separate school, which was also declared illegal. So the original parent body, which consisted of both ashkenazim and sephardim, went on strike. At the time of our conversation, the woman’s daughter and the other girls were studying secretly with a private teacher. When the court later learned about this arrangement, they fined each parent NIS 400 a day.

It’s distressing that parents are less concerned with what their children are learning than with whom they are learning. School choice should mean that parents choose a school based on convenience, curriculum, quality and educational approach. It shouldn’t mean that a group of powerful parents get to decide who is in and who is out. Parents who want complete control over who their children learn with should not expect the government to pay for it.

Still, the parents in Emanuel should not go to jail. They had agreed to withdraw their children from school and educate them at their own expense, unlike other Beit Yaakov and “chinuch atzmai” schools that are partially funded by the government. It’s awful, but where will it end? There are hundreds of home-schooled children in Israel, and the government isn’t sending their parents to jail.

One of the fathers, who is of sephardic origin and has been found in contempt of court, spoke on the radio this morning. He plans to bring his month-old baby to jail with him and his wife. I don’t know who will be watching the other children. This will not make a pretty picture. While I’m not naive enough to believe that this isn’t a case of ethnic discrimination, the court has gone too far and this decision is sure to backfire.

Jerusalem Post article

Photo from Channel 10 via Jpost.

Update Sunday evening, June 20, 2010:

It seems a compromise has been reached. Both sides have agreed to arbitration (borrerut) by a Jerusalem rabbinic court, and the civil suit will be withdrawn. The girls will all learn together, and if there are any problems with specific girls, the rabbinic court will deal with it. This is what my husband heard on the news and Rafi confirmed it. The only links I have seen so far mention the withdrawal of the suit by the sephardi Lalom, but the bigger news is the huge concession on the part of the chasidim.  G-d willing, I’ll post links tomorrow.
Let’s hope that there are no lasting negative effects on the children of Emanuel.

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Comments

  1. I think it’s awful that parents of young children are going to be sent to jail over something like this. If the authorities are thinking about the children’s interests that’s definitely not the way to go.

    Besides, I wonder where they found the money for private education??

  2. Jail is not the way to go, but these parents were naive to think that starting a private school on state grounds wouldn’t spark any trouble. This is not a case of the “evil secular zionists” against the chareidim. This is a group of people who didn’t think straight when wanting the change their child’s education and now the entire chareidi system is at stake thanks to these ppl.

  3. Mrs. Anna,
    I got a color pamphlet in my mailbox begging for money to support the cause of the parents. Donating NIS 250 is cheaper than paying an NIS 400 monthly fine, is the argument.
    Ita, thanks for sharing your take on this issue.

  4. Errikkaa says:

    1- the system is broken for about a million reasons
    2- people should be allowed to send their children to a school that reflects their beliefs & values without being forced in with other children who do not fit their belief system especially if they are private schools not funded by the govt.
    3- this story is a magnet for anti-religious media in Israel like so many of the news stories in Israel right now and publicizing it more attracts more anti-religious and anti-Jewish sentiment and response
    4- school is over in 2 weeks and I only pray that they manage to sort things out quietly during the summer so we can stop hearing about it in the media

  5. Putting aside the politics for a moment, does the state seriously think that jailing 40 sets of parents for two weeks will only punish the parents? I’d imagine that those 40 sets of parents have at least 3-5 kids each. That’s 120 to 200 children who will be without their parents for two weeks. That is children who will know that their parents are jailed and can’t be there for them no matter what happens. Has anyone given any thought to the affect on these kids? I’d imagine that it is insufficient to say that people in the neighborhood will “step in” and take care of the kids. Yes, those who break the law need to face the consequences. But the children did not break the law and they, too, are having to face those same consequences.

  6. It doesn’t make sense that they cannot just open another school and fund it themselves or from private sources? Eventually, all children will grow up and find out who’s who and what’s what, and make up their own minds about how they want to live. What you learn “at home” when you are young is usually who you grow up to be, coupled with that the milieu you choose to live in. And that includes both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ comments about other Jews.

    While preserving their individual traditions is important, parents cannot sequester their children away from the world – it just doesn’t work – and this may be why, once children grow up and develop their personalities, some decide to leave the “good or not good closed-minded small clique” they live in.

    What the State wants to accomplish in theory is a good thing, however there is such a disparity of lifestyles that it is not an easy matter. But there must be a more judicious outcome other than ‘jail’.

  7. I think that if they wouldn’t have done it on state grounds there would not have been any trouble. They do have the right to chose which setting for their kids but they can’t expect the state to pay for it.

  8. Erikkaa: The question is, who gets to decide whether the children fit their belief system?
    As for negative publicity, once something has appeared in the Jerusalem Post and countless other news sources I don’t feel that writing about it on my blog is exactly calling extra attention to the issue. Lehefech, (on the contrary) I would like the anti-religious and anti-Israeli population to know that not all religious Israelis agree with the parents in Emanuel. Blogs are different than newspapers; their purpose is to give ordinary people a place to voice their opinion. And commenters are welcome to call me out when they think I’m wrong (including about my choice of what to post).
    I see my blog as a place for English-speaking Israelis to discuss issues important to us. I don’t believe in ignoring unpleasant events because of possible anti-Israel sentiments. We can’t improve our society, or know how to act in certain situations, if we don’t talk about things.

  9. Mike S. says:

    I wish I could understand what principle the parents thought they were upholding by going to prison rather than sending their kids to the school.

    If it is that their children should be separated from those of the “newly observant”, were it not for the Gedolim supporting them, I would say it is an obvious d’oraita violation of the issur of Ona’at devarim. Perhaps someone can explain why I am wrong.

    If it is that the state shouldn’t interfere with religious education, they wouldn’t, as I understand it, if the new school were not on the state grounds and not supported (whether for payroll or the building) by state funds.

  10. They want to protect their children from those who are exposed to certain things on the net and TV and they want to keep away from their kids. However, the big mistake here was doing it on state grounds.

  11. Errikkaa says:

    I’ll have to agree with Ita… and sometimes I wish I could do exactly what those “Emmanuel parents” did. I think parents should be allowed to CHOOSE what kind of education and environment their children are in for 8+ hours per day. We may not agree with the Emmanuel parents’ beliefs but they are not illegal. Israel is supposedly striving to be a democratic country… like the USA. Private Jewish day schools in the USA have plenty of rules for acceptance – like having a Jewish mother. There are Jewish day schools which are named, Sephardic Academy, etc. geared at preserving certain culture and styles. Are there laws against that type of “racism” in the USA???

  12. Errikkaa: First of all, all day schools in the US are completely privately funded. Second, most Orthodox community day schools are much, much more accepting of children from non-Orthodox homes, than the schools here in Israel.

  13. Mother in Israel,

    Depends where you are talking about.. Doubt a Bais Yaakov would ever take a child from a home that was not observant..

  14. How does a non-observant child – at this young tender impressionable age – be exposed to their heritage? learn about their ancestors? see the beauty of Shabbos? Where does this foolishness end? For boys, there can be 101 batei midrash, a myriad of kollelim, all in order to teach them in a way that is “in a way their minds can grasp the richness of our heritage, THEN WHY NOT WITH GIRLS? Despite the obvious issues of observance and family customs, a “child is a terrible neshoma to waste” (as in a mind is a terrible thing to waste” http://mindwaste.com/)

    ‘Grownups’ are acting like children, ‘adults’ are misbehaving, and ‘children’ are starving for the EMES. This whole chulent of egos could be turned around and made into a tremendous Kiddush HaShem by accepting ALL the children and giving them a curriculum to bring them closer to Hashem and enable their neshomas to blossom. This whole thing is so disturbing to decent people everywhere.

  15. an influx of newly-religious parents into the community
    Not exactly non-observant parents, as some commented.
    The fact that these families have different religious standards is no ground to keep these kids out of a state-funded school. But I also agree that jail isn’t the solution. Why not fine the families concerned?

  16. I absolutely agree with what you said here. This would have been a non-issue if they opened their own school on their own dime.

    It is just sad that we can’t disagree yet get along.
    Can we not learn from beit Hillel and beit Shammai, who, while in disagreement about many issues, still ate each others foods and married into each others families?

  17. Al Petak says:

    The Sephardi enrolled in the school objected to non religious Sephardi Jews wanting to leave the secular crime ridden schools pretending to be religious.
    Sephardi Jewish fathers went to jail too.
    Anti Semites, if a non fundamentalist Muslim went to a fundamentalist Mosque would you care?

  18. There are rules for the school. A “takanon’ estanlished by one of the leaders of chareidi Jewry, Rav Wosner from Bnei Brak. ANY family that wishes to adhere to this standard was accepted. !2 families (which is 28% of the school) accepted these and are part of the school. If you dont, youre not in the new school.

    I dont want to get involved with any other cases on Chareidi chinuch in the country. Thats not the issue here. The issue is can a set of parents make up a rulebook for their school? If its an issue of money, why are they not allowed to open their own school? Why cant they send their kids to a different school in a different city?

    The high court thought that they can control the chareidim, and guide them away from their leaders. They felt, as was announced at the hearing, that the halacha is not above the law of the state of Israel. Dut to the mouth of he who spews such nonesense !

    This is was the massive protest was about ! That no secular court is allowed to force us to educate our chidlren against the wishes of the rabbonim. No law of the land is above the law of the Torah.

    And one last point. Why do you think that the curriculam of WHAT you learn is more important that WHO your kids play with? I disagree and think that WHO your child associates with is of much more magnitude in developing WHO your child will be. Which is much more important than WHAT he knows.

    • a guy: The rules for admission to the breakaway school were designed to filter out as many sephardi girls as possible. Only accepting girls who daven with an ashkenazi accent at home? How is that a matter of religious level?

      I think they are allowed to open their own school on their own budget, but they made no attempt to do so. Sending the girls to another school in another city would still mean that the tax-paying public is paying for their segregation.

      I’ve learned, over the years, that there are many influences on how children turn out. I think that teaching children that other small children are somehow going to taint them is a very bad message. Yes, children can have a bad influence on one another. But I don’t think you can predict which ones will, just by looking at them. And the issue here isn’t even WHO your child associates but WHO your child is NOT allowed to associate with. What about the excluded children and their education? In a small town like Emanuel, shouldn’t everyone be concerned about what will happen to them? One reason the public is angry with the parents in Emanuel is that they perceive them as only looking out for their own interests.

      “WHO your child associates with is of much more magnitude in developing WHO your child will be. Which is much more important than WHAT he knows.”
      We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I’ll stay with my naive belief that parents can still have the most influence on their children.

  19. I can’t speak from personal experience on most of this, directly, but I would like to say that one enormous and so often overlooked benefit of mixing together or placing together in close enough proximity so that people who don’t do as we do or believe what we believe can see one another/observe one another, is that the “less so” group might increase their level of observance – not that the “more so” are endangered from a dilution of their convictions. Even in children.

    In this sense, I do use myself as an example – I constantly have craved, since a young age, to observe others, not because of a desire to be like anyone else, but because I wanted to understand and find affirming experiences for my own background. I went to a Catholic university and became far more culturally and religiously Jewish than I had ever been throughout an upbringing in Conservative and Reform synagogues as a child.

    We really must have confidence in our parenting and in our kids. I agree with Mom in Israel regarding what should be the focus when it comes to education.

    And I agree with everyone regarding finding some other way to seek to enforce the principles behind the jail sentence other than a jail sentence – except to the extent that that sentence itself has been manipulated by those flouting law (to the extent they were seeking to push buttons and think “let’s just SEE them put us in jail”). That’s totally unsupportable too – and shows that their not prioritizing their kids above their activism. Sometimes one must cede to the other.

  20. The Beis Yaakov Chasidi was founded in 2007, the small town of Emanuel, Israel, as a stricter alternative to the original Beis Yaakov. Two of its founders were Rav Shimon Ba’adani of Bnei Brak and Rav Bar Lev, Rabbi of Emanuel. It placed in the top floor of the original Beis Yaakov in the vacated rooms that used to belong to the high school; the high school had moved to its own building in 2004.
    There are two other girls’ schools in Emanuel – the Chabad Lubavitch school, founded in the late 1990’s, and the Beit Rachel and Leah, under the Shas-Mayan network of Sephardic schools, founded in 2007.

    The three boy’s schools were then and continue to be Chabad Lubavitch, Shas-Mayan Sephardic, and Chassidic.

    What makes the Beis Yaakov Chasidi school different is its standards, in particular standards concerning tznius (length and tightness of dress), no makeup, no MP3s, exposure to media, etc. The original Beis Yacov was largely comprised of Chassidic families.

    The demographics here changed. Members of the chassidic community were moving out, and the flavor the original Beis Yaakov was becoming more modern. Outreach programs began in an effort to encourage people to move the original Beis Yaakov back towards its original narrower interpretation of the Israeli Haredi lifestyle. This outreach did not succeed, so the Chassidim formed their own school – in their minds, returning to the original school’s former style.

    The formation of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi was an effort by members of the original Chassidic population here to re-create the kind of Beis Yaakov that they had a decade ago. It was a stricter school – in terms of dress, exposure to media, even to some aspects of Haredi culture that they feel is not for them as in Haredi “rock music”, choice of careers, etc.

    LAWSUIT

    Upon its opening, an individual who does not reside in Emanuel sued the school for ethnic discrimination, claiming that this was a school for Ashkenazi students only.

    RAV SHIMON BA’ADANI FORBIDS USING SECULAR COURTS AND SECULAR MEDIA

    HaRav HaGaon Rav Ba’adani wrote a letter that was distributed to every family in Emanuel in 2007 forbidding the bringing of grievances to the secular media or courts, and that any grievance must be brought to a religious court. It is a widely held practice to air grievances with the local Rabbi before going to religious court.

    Rav Ba’adani is widely respected in the Haredi world. It is unlikely that anyone in the Beis Yaakov Chasidi or the original Beis Yaakov or Beit Rachel and Leah (the newly founded girls’ Sephardic School, unnoticed by the media or courts) or the Sephardic boys’ school or the Chassidic boys’ school would bring complaints to the secular media.

    INVESTIGATION BY MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

    Shulamit Amichai, the head of the Ministry of Education in 2007, sent attorney Mordechai Bass to investigate the situation. His states, “The division was not ethnic, it was religious. I am convinced that there is no ethnic discrimination.” (See synopsis at bottom of page).

    30% of the girls attending Beis Yaakov Chasidi are Sephardic, not including those of blended heritage. 20% of the students in the original Beis Yaakov are Ashkenazi, many have blended heritage.

    The guiding principles of our community are its various philosophies, not heritage. The leaders of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi really did not know or care who was Sephardic, Ashkenazic, newly religious, religious for generations, until this issue hit the news and they had to answer this question.

    COURT HEARING APRIL 29 2010

    The parents of the girls in the Beis Yaakov Chasidi who happen to be Sephardic petitioned to meet with the Supreme Court Judge Levi during the initial phases. He refused to meet with them. The very first time the judge met with the parents was on April 29 2010. Only half the parents were allowed into the court, as there were many spectators in the courtroom. But if these parents were subpoenaed, shouldn’t the court have made room for them?

    None of the parents were put on the stand or cross-examined
    .
    Judge Levi ordered representatives of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi to work out a compromise with the plaintiffs. That means that Yoav Lallum, funded by the NIF, was to be involved in the forming of the school’s rules.

    And since no “agreement” had been reached, unlikely when working with an anti-religious activist, on May 17 Judge Admon Levi ordered all the girls to return to school and all be in the same classes. He also ordered that the Sephardic and Ashkenazi girls will have two separate tracts for prayer and halacha class. The Beis Yaakov Chasidi will close, only the original Beis Yaakov will exist.

    But in the original Beis Yaakov, the girls have always prayed together, Sephardic liturgy. And there were not separate halacha classes for Sephardim and Ashkenazim, all the girls learned the entire spectrum of halacha. Ironically, the Supreme Court is making its own “separation” that the original Beis Yaakov and Chassidic Beis Yaakov never did.

    But more importantly – where does the Israeli Supreme Court base its right to alter nuances in school curriculum? How can Judge Levi decide that there will be separate tracts for Ashkenazi and Sephardic students in prayer and Jewish Law – a separation that this community itself does not recognize?

    It was stipulated in the court order that the parents could sign up their girls in any schools they wished, other than the Beis Yaakov Chasidi of Emanuel. The parents of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi then signed up their girls in the Beis Malka School in Bnei Brak.

    On Sunday morning May 30, the first day that the girls from Emanuel attended this school in Bnei Brak, a group of reporters came to Emanuel and followed the morning bus, and filmed the girls entering this school. That day the school informed the parents that the Ministry of Education declared that they are not allowed to accept the girls from Emanuel.

    OVERCROWDING IN RELIGIOUS ISRAELI SCHOOLS

    Some classes in the cities have as much as forty five, even forty eight girls. A teacher in Jerusalem told me, “It can be nearly the end of the year before I get to know all my students.” This puts enormous pressure on students to compete for a limited amount of space.

    High school is in some ways more important that seminary education in Israel, unlike the American model of college being of foremost importance. Living in smaller towns lessens the pressures of competing for places in high school without lowering standards of education, as the religious world is brimming with a surplus of teachers who themselves must move to smaller areas to secure employment.

    SOME MORE INFORMATION ABOUT EMANUEL

    Emanuel was a fairly easy target – deep in the Shomron, an unlikely place for many to visit and check the facts for themselves. Not a well-off community, with few resources for self-advocacy. Small enough that you are easily exposed to the great variety that exists within the Charedi world, and any place in which variety is supported fosters a healthy, moderate environment.

    If you like languages, you could improve your Hebrew, Arabic, French, Russian, Yiddish, English, Judeo-Yemenite, Moroccan, Persian, Bucharian, Tunisian.

    For religious choices you have the spiritual Sephardim saying their blessings with fervor, proud of their glorious past under Islam and their good relations with local Arabs. Or the Lubavitchers, steadfast in their mission to spread Chassidut and make sure you learned some Torah today. The modern orthodox balancing it all and their doorway into the professions; the proper and learned Lithuanians happy to answer any question on Jewish law – by answering with another question. The meditative Breslover Chassidim crying “father” in Yiddish in the middle of the night as they pray on the hillside; the Chassidim who migrated from Tiberias a generation ago – of a heritage part Russian and Old Yishuv Edut HaMizrach and their talent for teaching; the two Yemenite sects, one which favors kabala and mysticism, the other which cleaves to Maimonedean rationalism. You have the more open Sephardim and Ashkenazim – and blended – who flourish in the original Beis Yaakov or modern orthodox schools, the stricter Sephardim whose grandmothers wore purda with veiled faces. “Strict” and “lenient” are not ethnically delineated.

    Emanuel is a place where you are easily exposed to the great variety that exists within the Charedi world. If you like languages, you could improve your Hebrew, Arabic, French, Russian, Yiddish, English, Judeo-Yemenite, Moroccan, Persian, Bucharian, Tunisian.

    If we had hyphenated last names going back about three or four generations, revealing the many who have blended heritage, this whole Sephardic – Ashkenazi “divide” would fade away.

    Small towns like Emanuel are actually a very good place to live and get to know different types of people.

    THE BAIS YAAKOV SCHOOL SYSTEM

    The Beis Yaakov system was founded in 1917 in Cracow, Poland by Sarah Shneirer, and is “selective” according to level of religious observance and expectations of refined personal behavior.

    The first set of grades on the report card of the Beis Yaakov School in Emanuel concern personal character traits: prayer, attitude towards studies, attitude towards peers, respect of elders, respect of property, neatness and cleanliness, task completion, homework preparation, behavior during class, modesty. In each category is a line for teacher’s comments. This is a good chance for personal growth for a child.

    Rebbetzen Henya Liebermensh, late wife of Rav Nosson Liebermensh, told me, “my father used to cover the bottom half of my report card and look at the comments on my character traits. If they were good, he would praise me and hand back the report card with a smile.”

    We need schools that help the whole child and family grow. Beis Yaakov has high standards. You do not have to attend it if you do not want to.

    The vice principal of the Beis Yaakov Emanuel is a Sephardic woman. There are of course excellent Sephardic women teachers in the Beis Yaakov, and there are excellent Sephardic men teachers in the Chassidic boys’ school that my son’s attend.

    ATTORNEY MORDECHAI BASS’ EVALUATION OF THE BEIS YAAKOV EMANUEL CASE:

    A brief synopsis, original report in Hebrew is attached.

    Page 1

    Invitation to investigate

    “On January 28 2008 I was invited to evaluate the complaints of ethnic discrimination made against the Beis Yaakov Emanuel administration. I have thoroughly reviewed relevant material … and have met with administrators from the ministry of education, the chinuch atzmai (independent religious schools’ network, which Beis Yaakov is under), and I visited the two schools in question.”

    Page 2

    Evaluation of ethnicity

    “The percentage of Ashkenazi families in the original school is 23%, and in the new (Chasidi) school, 73%.”

    (Footnote at bottom: “Such figures are not totally accurate – firstly, the schools do not note the ethnicity of their students in the registration – and this is a good thing! Secondly – this figure was…partially based on the tenor of the family name, which can also be inaccurate.” )

    Were any families refused admission to the Beis Yaakov Chasidi, Emanuel?

    “All parents wanting to sign up their daughters to the new school, and were ready to accept upon themselves the school’s conditions, were accepted (lit. “not refused”). Since there was no rejection (of any applicants), where is the discrimination?”

    Page 5

    Description of Emanuel Community

    “A varied population dwells in Emanuel – Chassidic, Lithuanian, Sephardic, some families have been Haredi for generations, some for one generation, some are newly religious for a few years. In larger towns, this variety is expressed in a variety of schools. Until this year there was only one (Haredi) school in the town.” ( My note )

    Attorney Bass notes the tensions between the stricter, sheltered factions and the more open, lenient factions.

    Page 6

    Attorney Bass notes the founding of the Sephardic girls’ school in Emanuel, Beit Rachel and Leah, under the Mayan-Shas network, which at the time had only a small first grade. (My note )

    He notes the various options that the parents explored – having different tracts in the same building, or opening a new school. In the end, a new school was founded.

    Page 7

    “The two schools are administrated separately, with two different principals.”

    Physical separation between the two schools – fact or fiction?

    “…photographers claimed that the cloth that was placed on the (pre-existing) fence prevented the girls from seeing each other. This is not true. Only part of the fence was covered. The yard surrounds the school from four directions, and the girls (from both schools) are able to see and play with each other. The (media) portrayal of two completely separate sections of the school yard…is not true.”

    Page 8

    “Were the students in the two schools divided according to ethnicity?

    “Were the students in the two schools divided according to ethnicity? The plaintiffs claim yes (the top of this page exhibits the plaintiffs’ claim)….The original school has 107 Sephardic girls and 32 Ashkenazim. The percentage of Ashkenazim is thus 23%. The new (Chasidi) school has 58 Ashkenazi girls and 21 Sephardim. The percentage of Sephardim is thus 27%….I repeat that…anyone interested in registering their daughters in the new school and ready to accept the school’s way of life was not refused.

    “I spoke to the plaintiffs and asked for one instance of parents who asked to register their daughter and was refused and they had no such case.

    He goes on to discuss the legal technicalities of opening a new school, licensure and so forth.

    Page 11

    Again -physical separation between the two schools – fact or fiction?

    Attorney Bass reiterates that accusations of physical barriers between the two schools were exaggerated and that indeed there was free access between the girls of both schools. He notes that the new school occupies (the third floor) rooms which were unused. (The third floor had housed the high school, and was vacated in September 2004 when the high school got its own building.)

    (I laughed when I read paragraphs 4 and 5, which address the plaintiffs’ accusation that the times of school starting and recess were at different times. Attorney Bass found this to be untrue. Of course both schools begin at the same time – 8am. Of course the recesses are at the same time. Would it make sense to have recess at different times, with one school trying to study while the other half is making noise outside?)

    Paragraph 6 on page 11 addresses the plaintiffs’ accusation that the girls in each school were forbidden contact with each other. () Attorney Bass notes that there was no such ordinance issued by the school.

    Page 12

    More on the culture of Emanuel – Sheltering children

    Here, Attorney Bass sensitively notes the great variety that exists in the Haredi world, despite its outward uniform appearance in dress. He suggests that non-Haredim attempt to understand the mentality of sheltering from the outside world, and that the more strict and sheltered Haredim would understandably be wary of having their children have close contact with more lenient and worldly Haredim.

    Page 13, paragraph 22

    Was there ethnic discrimination in the Beis Yaakov Emanuel?

    “The division was not ethnic, it was religious. I am convinced that there is no ethnic discrimination.”

    Conclusion

    “When ethnic discrimination actually occurs, we must combat it with all our might. I express my sorrow about complaints like these – thrown in the air – that increase hatred among Israel, and are totally baseless.”

    Attorney Mordechai Bass

    for more info and original court documents, see:

    http://beisyaakovemanuel.blogspot.com/

  21. While I agree that this whole thing wouldn’t have happened if the school was totally private funding. The real issue here is that the court thinks that THEY are more the law then the Gedolei Yisrael. To most chareidi jews, that is BLASPHEMOUS— APIKORSUS!!!!!! That in a JEWISH country and the land of the TORAH that some secular judge can say that THEY know better than people who toil in Torah day and night?????

    All the laws in the world do not even compare to that learned in the Shulchan Aruch, Mishneh Brerurah, Shulchan Aruch Harav and the like..

    And honestly, if I needed a reason to work harder at weaning myself off unnessary things in the media and become more sheltered.. THIS would be it! OMG!

    • So, it seems a compromise has been reached. Both sides have agreed to arbitration (borrerut) by a Jerusalem rabbinic court, and the civil suit will be withdrawn. The girls will all learn together, and if there are any problems with specific girls, the rabbinic court will deal with it. This is what my husband heard on the news and Rafi confirmed it. The only links I saw mention the withdrawal of the suit by the sephardi Lalom, but the bigger news is a huge concession on the part of the chasidim. My husband said that according to the report, sephardic rabbis went to Rabbi Yaakov Yosef’s house to congratulate him.
      Let’s hope that there are no lasting negative effects on the children of Emanuel.

  22. Does this sound reasonable to you? I’m not sure I”m able to judge it at all.

  23. If what I wrote is accurate (I’ll confirm tomorrow), it’s a complete capitulation on the part of the chassidim/ashkenazim. Last week they protested in huge numbers, and were set to sit in jail, to defend their right to learn separately.

  24. I’m sorry – I should be more specific. 🙂 Will this, does this compromise harm what they would like to inculcate with their kids, ultimately, or is it a tip to reality and a change in approach to that reality? I mean, I do not like to think that one group will literally lose itself because of a compromise, but rather that they see something in it to gain too. Is that any clearer? Sorry if it isn’t – I’d like to think that all sides will get something from the agreement, if true. So I’m asking, is that the case – will all sides get something they wanted, ultimately?

    • In my opinion, it’s a “tip to reality.” They don’t have the funds for a fully private school. Even if they did, what about the next time? I don’t think they will feel they have gained. but I could be wrong. We’ll see what the haredi press says about it.

  25. On some level it is a tip to reality, but on the other hand, this was a huge thing that the haredi AND dati leumi big rabbis ALL agreed on that ppl should have the right to chose whom they go to school with.

    I am not sure there was a compromise on mixing after that whole protest. That doesn’t make sense. I think the only thing different is that the argument is now going on in Bais Din.

  26. I thought it would blow up again. This whole thing is a big thing or else they would never have gotten such Torah giants involved. People like R’Chaim Kanievsky etc do not come out to these things unless it is real important. These types of tzaddikim spend every waking minute learning Torah and if they give up some of that time , it means something is real important.

  27. Lallum Did Not Keep His Word to the Beth Din. The Beth Din Responds:

    Beith Din Tsedek
    Jerusalem
    28 Chaiey Adam Street

    Founded in the year 1978 by HaGaon Rav Levin zt”l

    Ninth of Tammuz 5770 (June 21 2010)
    File number 1590

    Slonim of Emanuel et al (side A) vs. Yoav Lallum et al (side B)

    Protocol

    As of now, the Beth Din has not received any notice stating that Mr. Lallum notified the Supreme Court on his alleged withdrawal of his suit against side A. This, despite the decision of the Beth Din yesterday afternoon that he is obligated to do so immediately, within three hours.

    The decision of the Beth Din yesterday –that beginning this year there should be no divisions in the Chinuch Atzmai Emanuel School unless ordered by the Beth Din – has been spread to the media as if “the Beth Din supports the ruling of the Supreme Court …that the school was divided racially” This has created an awful desecration of the Holy Name, and goes against all the Gedolei Yisrael that came out against this Supreme Court ruling.

    Decision and Clarification

    First it shall be clarified, that after Mr. Lallum signed on the letter from the Beth Din, the Beth Din agreed to enter into this issue in order to save the women from imprisonment, and also to free the men, as long as Mr. Lallum would remove the case from the Supreme Court.

    B. It has become clear that Mr. Lallum broke the order of the Beth Din from the fourth of Tammuz (June 16 2010), in requesting of the Supreme Court to judge the Chinuch Atzmai for contempt of court, to remove from it funds and to remove license from the Emanuel parents to make a private school.

    Mr. Lallum has not complied with the Beth Din’s order yesterday to withdraw his suit from the Supreme Court, and this nullifies the decision of the Beth Din…thus the Beth Din views this as contempt of the Beth Din, and any case that was appointed between the sides is null and void.
    ….Turning to a secular court is without any approval of the Beth Din, and is akin to brazen rebellion against the Torah of Moses.
    The Beth Din clarifies that its order yesterday was not intended against side A concerning the division that was done in the school in Emanuel, in so far as no parent in Emanuel ever came to protest against this division of levels of education in the school.
    The interpretation that was given to the media concerning yesterday’s Beth Din decision as if it supports the Supreme Court ruling is against Da’as Torah. Any portrayal as if the Beth Din determined that there was discrimination, is null and void. This is a completely, wickedly twisted message that was given to the media. The decision of the Beth Din – as all of the Gedolei Yisrael – was and remains, that every decision in the management of schools shall only be according to Da’as Torah of the Gedolei Yisrael. It is Da’as Torah which decides, and none other.

    Mr. Lallum had intended to sue Chinuch Atzmai schools, and not necessarily the parents and others in Emanuel, thus the restraint order was not against side A.

    Signed

    HaRav Avraham David Levin, Av Beth Din
    HaRav Mordechai Eichler
    HaRav David Yehoshua Kenig

    With the Seal of the Beth Din Tsedek, Chayey Adam Street, Jerusalem

  28. “The real issue here is that the court thinks that THEY are more the law then the Gedolei Yisrael. To most chareidi jews, that is BLASPHEMOUS— APIKORSUS!!!!!! That in a JEWISH country and the land of the TORAH that some secular judge can say that THEY know better than people who toil in Torah day and night?????”
    Exactly, we don’t live in a theocracy. We live in a democracy where the secular government, given their power by the people who vote, have the responsibility to govern. And yes these “secular” judges (some of them are national religious)often DO know better than the Haradim who toil in Torah day and night.
    And lets face it there aren’t just one group of Haradim. There are many different groups who study Torah day and night, and they don’t agree with each other so who of them is correct in the way that they interpret the Law?
    This is not a controversy for the sake of heaven. This is a controversy leading to hatred and it is seeped in self aggrandizement and pride. It fills me with foreboding.

  29. You are right that we don’t live in a theocracy. Although, it’s borderline that just by calling it a Jewish state. I am sorry, but even IF the laws could be different. The very fact that the court could speak in such a disrespectful way about Torah GIANTS is disgusting. How about respecting elders???Being that this is a JEWISH country,they SHOULD give credence to the Torah being that it is the blueprint of life for the Jews.This is the issue that many religious people have with the State, that they are a bunch of Jews who have absolutely no respect for Torah. What nerve! These aren’t a bunch of non jews here, it’s a bunch of JEWS not respecting TORAH!

    This is an argument for the sake of Heaven. These chassidim are very very sheltered people and they want to keep it that way. There are so many negative influences in this world from bad images of how women should look thereby causing anorexia etc.. to non kosher ideas in matters of acting and the like. It’s not about hatred at all, it’s about sheltering!!

  30. To be Jewish is a complicated thing. It is an unusual combination of national group and religion. 1) Its a RELIGION because you can’t be Christian and Jewish at the same time i.e. Jews for Jesus are Christians not Jews. 2) Its a people and an example is that while you have Arab Christians, and Arab Muslims you don’t have Arab Jews. The Arabs are a people and so are the Jews.
    So Israel CAN be and IS a Jewish state without having to be a theocracy, we are the state of the Jewish People.

    The state DOES give respect to the Torah, but there is more than one view on what that means. The Torah is huge, bigger than anything, and the “Haradim” don’t have a monopoly on how it should be interpreted.

    Just like the rest of us have to follow the laws of our country so do they.

    Last point: You seem to think being “very very sheltered” is good? I think it is wrong. I am not very very sheltered, I have to work, pay taxes, send my beautiful sons into the army, deal with the bad images that abound in this world and yet remain strong in my love of Judaism and Israel.
    I expect no less from every citizen of our country.

  31. Ita, I understand why the statement of the court was so inflammatory and offensive. As faulty as the decision was (the more I read the more I understand that there are many problems) I am disturbed that the haredi public came out to protest in such numbers and so vehemently.

    There are two sides to the story. There are children from Emanuel who were hurt by the segregation. Isn’t Hashem supposed to be looking out for them too? It seems to me that there is plenty in the Torah to support Lalum’s position. One side doesn’t have a monopoly on the Torah. Well, maybe the gedolim do as far as their public is concerned, but the haredi public isn’t didn’t need convincing.
    In the end it didn’t look like they protested in favor of the Torah. It looked like they protested against innocent children.

  32. Mother in Israel,
    I have the very same questions you ask!!! You are right that one side does not have a monopoly on Torah. I was born into a very weak home religious wise and I kept on wondering if these people would not want me either. They probably wouldn’t have unless I kept by their rules.

    You also have to realize that children exposed to the internet(tv and other forms of media) have a possibility of being exposed to so many unTorah ideas whether you like it or not.

    However, it was not only Charedim at this protest. There were the big Rabbis from Dati Leumi and Mizrachi as well. This was an across the board religious thing aside from the Sephardim and Chabad.

    Would you want your child going to class with kids who take drugs, are sexually active etc etc.. ?> You probably wouldn’t. Does that mean that you are being discriminatory. Yes it does. Discrimination has become a dirty word, but in some instances it is warranted.

    Would you want your child to study with Arabs? Christians? Hindus? That too is discrimination.

    I would like to state that Judaism is not just a nation , it’s a nation that was put into being because we accepted the word of Hash-m. The secular like to think that it’s separate, but it’s not. We were all there at Har Sinai to receive the Torah. Without Torah, the jew is nothing. There is nothing more true than the Torah. You know what, all law on some level is based on Torah whether people like to admit it or not.

    While some go to the army and be soldiers, there are others who believe that learning torah is the best “weapon” against all the ills of the world. Each person in the army has a different job. Maybe if we would all consider ourselves as one and realize that we all have our jobs to do, then we would be in a better place.

    Honestly, I am not one to keep to labels other than religious jew who serves Hash-m. Labels like Charedi, Dati Leumi just don’t fit me..

    • Ita, I think the issue of the army is similar to the problem in Emanuel. You say that people have different jobs, and some people choose to learn while others serve in the army. But what people object to is that the charedim are deciding that they are the ones to learn and other people’s children should defend the country. In other words, one group is deciding on the roles of the society members as a whole, according to that group’s own values. I know it’s more complex than that, because it is a Jewish country, and the system for army exemptions has been legalized. But as the haredi population grows, the situation is less and less viable. If everyone decided that learning was more important, we would have no army. As it is there is a severe shortage of combat soldiers. At least one of my sons might not have been put in a combat unit if this wasn’t the case.
      On to the situation in Emanuel: When a group of parents decides to start a new exclusive school, leaving the weaker (socio-economically, politically) students behind, it hurts all of society. We all want to educate our children as we see fit. But just like in the army, what would happen if all parents did that? The weaker population would be isolated in bad schools, never able to improve their situation. The government has an obligation to look out for those children, and I want my taxes to go primarily to weaker schools, and not support schools for the elite (however that’s defined). It seems to me that in a small town like Emanuel, it’s in everyone’s interest for all children to have strong schools. It really bothers me when the religious leadership only worries about its own constituency and lets the weaker population, without political power, manage on their own, and at the expense of the state.
      I am also wondering, if these families are so problematic, why their daughters were accepted to the Beit Yaakov to begin with? The whole situation must be so degrading for them.

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