Articles and court documents concerning the law suit brought against the Beit Yaakov Chasidic School of Immanuel, Israel by the Noar KeHalacha organization (a New Israel Fund grantee).
In September 2007 two new girls' schools opened in Immanuel: A Chassidic Beit Yaakov and a Sephardic Shas school. The Sephardic girls' school opened in the same building as the Beit Yaakov high school (see Bass document below, page 6 paragraph 12), the Chassidic Beit Yaakov opnened in the same building as the original Beit Yaakov. A Channel 2 television report, Ha'Aretz news, and New Israel Fund websites claimed that the founding of the Chassidic school was an ethnic split between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish children (see links below).
The Ministry of Education sent attorney Mordechai Bass to investigate in January 2008. Here is his report in Hebrew:
Attorney Bass saw that, contrary to press reports, 27% of the girls in the Chassidic school were Sephardic, and 25% of the girls in the original school were Ashkenazic, and that no one who applied and agreed to the more insular rules of a Chassidic school was refused admittance. He emphasizes that evaluating ethnicity was difficult as ethnicity is not noted anywhere in the school records, and he adds, "this is a good thing!"
Attorney Bass concludes:
“The division was not ethnic, it was religious. I am convinced that there is no ethnic discrimination.”
"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.”
Further down on this page you can more in English. Here is part of the Hebrew:
(י(ראה דוח בודק יחיד של עורך דין מרדכי בס על טענות נגד בית ספר בית יעקב בעמנואל
"י"האם הייתה בפיצול בית הספר אפליה עדתית...תשובתי היא כי שוכנעתי שלא היתה אפלייה כזו
דף 15 פרק 27: י"אין לי אפוא אלא להביע צערי על שטעונות כאלא - שבכל מקום שבו אנו מוצאים כי יש להן, הצדקה, לאזור את כל כוחותינו ולהלחם באפליה העדתית מלחמת חורמה - מעולות ונזרקות לחלל .האוויר, ומרבות שנאה בישראל, במקום בו אין להן בסיס"י
The New Israel Fund website claims that the Beis Yaakov in Immanuel was an ethnic split: (If page is not found, look at the Wikipedia "Beit Yaakov Immanuel Controversy" website for this link and other NIF links stating that this was an ethnic split, or search the NIF website. I have tried to post this link and it is not working
New Israel Fund grantee, Tmura, states:
"The students have been physically separated within this school based solely on ethnicity." And elaborates on its legal assistance in this suit. (if page is not found, type in the search bar "Old-Fashioned Discrimination, New-Style Battle" on the Tmura website)
Ha'Aretz website claimed that this was solely an ethnic split:
(Type in the search box "Beit Yaakov Immanuel" for the list of articles)
Only after a direct interview was conducted with one of the imprisoned fathers in June 2010, a Ha'Arretz article concedes that "a third of the group ...are Sephardic themselves."
INVITATION TO APPLY
In the next link, you see the invitation to all students in both the original and the new Beis Yaakov to apply to whichever track they wish. All were welcome to apply.
PETITION TO COURT BY SEPHARDIC PARENTS:
Here is the petition to the court submitted by the 26 Sephardic parents of the Chassidic Beit Yaakov school. They explain that their way of life is incompatible with the kind of education available in Immanuel at that time. They declare in paragraph 14 that this is a religious and not an ethnic issue. They request a hearing at the Supreme Court. This request was denied.
January 19 2010 – The Sephardic parents of the Chassidic Beit Yaakov presented an emergency appeal to appear before the Supreme Court. (For easier reading I translate in the first person)
They note in Paragraph 6:
We do not feel comfortable presenting ourselves merely in terms of our ethnicity. We do not raise our daughters to regard themselves solely in terms of their ethnic background. To further emphasize the absurdity of accusing us of racism, some of us have blended Sephardic and Ashkenazi heritage.
Paragraphs 12 and 13 :…this is the only school in Immanuel which is fitting to our strict Haredi educational values, any other school here is detrimental to our daughters’ education.
Our need to found a new school is based solely on religious needs, how can we be accused of separating between Sephardim and Ashkenazim when some of the founders of the Chassidic school are Sephardi?!
The list of parents includes both well known, established families in the Haredi world and newly religious families. Rav Meir Elmaliach is from a well known family, and Rav Eliyahu Biton, is a Rosh Kollel.
15. Every family in both schools was invited to choose where to send their daughters, to the Chassidic or general school.
We cannot send our daughters to a school that threatens our way of life. We will have to leave Immanuel if it comes to this.
The right to choose the education of our daughters is a fundamental principal in Israeli law. See the work by Yoram Rabin, “The Right to Education”, Nevo publishers, p 112 – 113. (They go on to cite other sources in Israeli law of freedom of choice in education.)
32. We hereby request an opportunity to present ourselves before the honorable court.
This request was denied.
Here, Rachel Guveri, then head of education in Emanuel, recommends the continuation of the Chassidic Beis Yaakov. See English translation below.
I had posted two letters on this blog submitted to the court by fathers of the Chassidic Beis Yaakov whose daughters had allegedly been tormented for being "too religious" in the original Beis Yaakov. One of the fathers is Sephardic. I am removing the letters now, January 2012, from this blog for the sake of peace. Should anyone wish to see them, you may contact me by email, which I post further down on this page. I here enclose a couple of quotes from the letters as a way of illustrating the insularity and level of modesty that they seek in educating their children:
"Girls from all communities and ethnicities attend the Chassidic school....
I educate my children in the Chassidic style which includes loosely fitting, long sleeved, collared and buttoned-up shirts, full length stockings, hair that is short and gathered (ponytail or braid)....There were girls who brought in things foreign to us such as inappropriate movies. We do not allow our daughter to have a connection with anyone who has unseemly influences so that she will not absorb negative traits...I was in contact with the principal who tried to help but finally raised her hands and said, “In this population we cannot have that kind of Haredi education and I must make compromises.”
Here, Ezra Gerashi, mayor of Emanuel, says that one of the court documents submitted by the plaintiffs claims that his daughters were rejected by the Chassidic school. He declares that this is false, and that his daughters never applied.
Parents' declaration to the court:
המלחמה המתחסדת של האחים החילונים באחיהם החרדים
החרדים מלמדים ילדיהם בהתאם לקוד החינוכי המקובל עליהם - אז למה לשלחם לכלא? המוטו החדש של בגאהרון רול פובליציסט
"צ: נכה בחרדים - ונציל את העולם
in Hebrew: articles, pictures, and videos:
Aviad Visoli, in "Tragedy of Sentencing Error", writes:
The only law that falls upon the parents is mandatory education – to register the child in an educational institution and to ensure their continuous attendance. There is no doubt that the parents fulfilled this.
On the seventh of April, 2010, the parents were included in the suit.
The Supreme Court has no authority to preside in judgment over the parents. Paragraph 15 of the basic law of judgment states the following on the authority of the court: “(The Supreme Court) may give orders to government bodies, municipal bodies, and those individuals who fulfill a public function according to the law. (These orders) can be to force action or to prevent action in the fulfillment of their public duties according to the law.” The Supreme Court has no authority to issue an order against anyone who is not fulfilling a public role. The Court, by law, cannot instruct an individual citizen to send his child to a particular school.
Thus, the Supreme Court has no authority to give any order to any private individual who is not fulfilling a public duty. According to the law, the Supreme Court has no authority to order anyone to send his child to any particular school.
The Supreme Court is duty bound to enforce the laws passed by the Knesset. It has no authority to create new laws, and certainly not new laws that expand its own authority.
The court’s decision in ordering the parents to send their daughters to a school they do not wish to is supposedly based upon the law that applies to recalcitrant citizens. However, it appears that this decision itself is illegal as it exceeds the power granted by the legislature. This is not a “marginal” violation, but a broad and systemic violation of the law.
י"בג"צ הוא פורום מינהלי. אין בו כלים לחקר האמת - אין ראיות, אין גילוי מסמכים, אין עדויות ואין חקירות נגדיות. את כל מסקנותיו העובדתיות על האפליה גזר בג"צ מ"מלחמת ההודעות והודעות שכנגד", כדבריו. ברור שאין בית משפט אמור לדון אדם לכף חובה ללא בחינה עובדתית מהימנה, חקירת עדים והצגת ראיות. קל וחומר שאינו יכול לשלוח אדם למאסר מבלי לשמוע את עדותו. ההורים שנשלחו בהוראת בג"צ "למאסר - אף לא אחד מהם העיד בבית המשפט
לבג"צ אין כל סמכות לתת צו נגד כל אדם שאינו ממלא תפקיד ציבורי על-פי דין. בג"צ, על-פי החוק, אינו מוסמך כלל לתת צו לכל אדם מן הישוב המורה לו לשלוח את ילדו לבית ספר כלשהו.
בג"צ יכול, וחייב, לפרש את החוקים שנחקקו בכנסת. בג"צ אינו מוסמך לחוקק חוקים חדשים. קל וחומר שבג"צ אינו מוסמך לחוקק חוקים שירחיבו את סמכויותיו-שלו.
התקדים שנטבע בבג"צ עמנואל - שליחתם לכלא בסיטונות של הורים לילדים חפים מפשע שכלל לא היו (ולא יכלו להיות) צד להליכים בבית המשפט, ללא כל ראיה או עדות, ותוך חריגה בוטה של בג"צ מסמכותו על-פי החוק - מהווה תקדים מסוכן שיפגע קשות בשלטון החוק וירחיב את הסדק ההולך ומעמיק באמון הציבור בבתי המשפט ככלל ובשופטי בג"צ בפרט
ללא כל ראיה או עדות
You can get direct access to to Supreme Court documents:
1) Go to the Supreme Court website http://court.gov.il/
2) Go to the place where it says
החלטות ביהמ"ש העליון
Ask for file 1067/08 (that means case 1067 in their year 2008)
3) That number is enough. But you can also find the files by putting in the names of the 3 judges
Levy, Arbel, Meltzer or the date when the petition was first filed 4 Feb. 2008
This is the document that should have caused this case to get thrown out of court.
Attorney Mordechai Bass' Evaluation:
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.”
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?”
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.”
Attorney Bass notes the tensions between the stricter, sheltered factions and the more open, lenient factions.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.
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.
More on the culture of Emanuel – Sheltering childrenHere, 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.”
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
Still, even after the fathers were in prison, and it could no longer be denied that this was not an ethnic split, but a new school founded on differences in level of observance, commentators continued to paint the founders of the Chassidic school as racist.
Arthur Green writes:
See more articles in the "Forward" website, including:
"Parents of European, or Ashkenazi, descent at the all girls’ school don’t want their daughters to study with schoolgirls of Mideast and North African descent, known as Sephardim."
"Religious Girls' School Fails To Integrate Ashkenazic and Sephardic Students"
Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/127209/#ixzz1VbA6CPej
Synopsis of letter from Rachel Guveri, head of education, town council of Emanuel, to Emanuel’s mayor Ezra Gerashi
As my duty as head of education, I check on the schools and kindergartens. I have visited the Beis Yaakov School five times this year.
Concerning allegations of discrimination that have arisen:
1. There is no separation wall in the school.
2. There is one uniform dress code for the whole school.
3. There are no separate recesses.
4. The yard is shared; the girls (from both schools) play together.
The students are happy with the situation.
1. Registration – each family was given a choice at the beginning of the year which school to choose from – Chasidi or general.
2. Prayer – each girl prays according to her home custom. In the first grade they receive a prayer book from the Sephard tradition.
3. Girls learn the gamut of Jewish law, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi traditions, as a seamless whole.
4. Both schools learn the same curriculum.
5. The rules for both are the same.
6. There are teachers who teach in both schools.
I see that the girls are happy in these schools. (Additionally) the new Mayan-Shas (Beit Rachel and Leah) school has a nice atmosphere and the girls are happy.
There are schools in Emanuel for all to choose from for their individual needs.
The directive to unite the two Beis Yaakovs has opposition from parents in both schools.
I recommend allowing (the Beis Yaakovs) to remain two separate tracts – Chasidi and general, this is the first preference.
A RESIDENT OF EMANUEL SPEAKS OUT
A Kiddush HaShem - Sanctification of the Name of G-d - is made when one sacrifices to uphold the teachings of the Torah. The members of the Emanuel Community - both Sephardic and Ashkenazi - who went to jail rather than allow the Israeli Supreme Court to dictate particulars of its religious education, merited in sanctifying the name of G-d.
But there were others who made their own special "Kiddush HaShem". They identified the falseness of the claims against Emanuel's more insular community and went out on a limb to add their voice against this media hoax and miscarriage of justice.
They are: Attorney Mordechai Bass, Attorney Aviad Visoli, Jerusalem Post journalists Shira Lebowitz Schmidt and Larry Derfner, Shmuel Koffer - writer for HaTsofar, Moshe Gorali - writer for Ma'ariv, law professor Daniel Freedman, webmaster Yaakov Menken, Isi Leibler, and more.
May they be eternally blessed for making their own version of a "kiddush HaShem" , and that is - simply, to stand up for the truth. They show that your sympathies need not be defined solely by your politics or lifestyle, and that Israeli society is not irreparably divided.
You can see their writings above under "Articles".
I have resided in Emanuel since 1999.
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. What makes the Chassidic Beis Yaakov school different is its standards of religious observance, concerning modesty (length and tightness of dress), no makeup, no MP3s, exposure to media, etc.
The original Beis Yaakov 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 IN THE COMMUNITY - previous to the founding of Beis Yaakov Chasidi
Before the founding of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi, 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. For about three years, there was a steady stream of lectures that were designed to educate parents about the Chassidic lifestyle. "The soul is parallel to the body. Just as we have muscles we can control - our arms and legs for example - we have muscles we cannot control - as in our heart muscles. The heart muscles are parallel to the spiritual muscle of 'being-influenced'. We cannot control 'being-influenced'. We must protect our childrens' souls from the time they are born." and..."we can devote every thought we have to the service of the King..."
Outreach means - this is philosphy, not ethnicity. This outreach did not succeed. There were Beis Yaakov pupils who continued using innappropriate speech - picked up from places that their parents ought to be protecting them from, if they want to be in this system. The Chassidim formed their own school – in their minds, returning to the original school’s former style.
There is a court document that claims that this third floor was built in 2007 for the new Chassidic Beis Yaakov. This is untrue. The third floor housed the high school since the school's inception in the early 1980's.
This same document states that a separation wall was built within the school building. This is untrue. A door was built on the second of three floors, surrounded by a plaster wall frame, but still - it was a door. The ground floor had open access and one could easily walk to both of the stairwells of each school. The third floor, formerly the high school, was used for the Chasidi school. The second floor was used for both the Chasidi and original school, and this door was built between them. Why a door and not a wall? So that those teachers who worked in both schools could go back and forth. The door has been mythologized in the popular press as a "separation wall", but it really was a door. It was built in August 2007.
One web site claims that a fence was built inside the grounds, and posts a photo of the fence that has surrounded the entire school since the school's founding in the early 1980's - another false image.
Another web site posts a picture of a fence surrounding the school, taken at a sharp angle, so it looks solid. Fences surround most schools in Israel. The sharp angle makes the fence look solid, but it is not, and it is not within the school grounds. You can visit me here in Emanuel and I will show it to you.
If anyone can find a picture of this "wall", or any other picture that appears to delineate separation, please send it to me at the following address:
c/o Beit Yaakov Elementary School
Beit Israel Street
Or send to my email: email@example.com
or post below
This same document decries the Chassidic school's use of a different school uniform. All religious schools in Israel, and some secular schools, have distinctive school uniforms.
I have so far in this blog been busy denying lies told about my community, like frantically swatting flies. Maybe that is what is really going on here. Put the religious on the defensive, make them waste their energy in denying slander against them and in defending themselves against media hoaxes and miscarriages of justice. A social scare tactic against those who are already religious and against those contemplating a religious lifestyle - think twice, you may be lied about, you may look bad on television.
There are two other girls’ schools in Emanuel – the Chabad Lubavitch school, founded in the late 1990’s, and the Ohel 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. Many residents of Emanuel send their children to neighboring towns to non-Haredi national religious schools or to Chassidic schools in Bnei Brak, to special education schools, vocational schools, etc. Thus, there is a wide variety of choices in education for families who live in Emanuel.
In February 2008, Yoav Lallum, who does not reside in Emanuel, and the group "Noar KeHalacha" sued the school for ethnic discrimination, claiming that this was a school for Ashkenazi students only.
But the Shas-Mayan network opened a Spehardi school for girls in Emanuel at the very same time, in which 99% of the girls are Sephardi.
In the fall of 2007, a reporter from Channel 2 and some cameramen came to the Beis Yaakov school. They were filming some of the girls. I attempted to talk to her off camera. I insisted that the new school was a different philosophy, and that this was not an ethnic divide. I tried to describe the difference between Chassidic and middle of the road Beis Yaakov schools, but she cut me off quickly, saying, "I know that this is racist because it is in the same building!" I retorted, "but the Chabad school also started in this building before they got their own building." She blushed, blinked rapidly, eyes darted back and forth, said, "I have work to do." and marched away.
A Chassidic neighbor was nearby, I gestured to him, he made a call on his cell phone, came over and said, "I just spoke to Rav Ba'adani, he says we are not allowed to go to the secular media." The Beis Yaakov girls then hurried away. Then Rav Ba'adani wrote the letter described below, which was distributed to every mailbox in Emanuel within a few days.
RAV SHIMON BA'ADANI FORBIDS USING SECULAR COURTS AND SECULAR
MEDIA TO AIR GRIEVANCES
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 Ohel 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 was to be involved in the forming of the school's rules.
JUDGE LEVI PROPOSED THAT ASHKENAZIM AND SEPHARDIM SEPARATE FOR PRAYERS AND CLASSES IN JEWISH LAW
Since no "agreement" had been reached, unlikely when working with an anti-religious activist, on May 17 Judge Admon Levi ordered that the Sephardic and Ashkenazi girls will be separated for prayer and classes on Jewish law, and learn together the rest of the day. This was utterly out of line with the Beis Yaakov philosophy.
In all Beis Yaakov schools, the girls have always prayed together, usually using the Sephardic liturgy. And there are not separate halacha classes for Sephardim and Ashkenazim, not in the more open Beis Yaakovs, nor Chassidic Beis Yaakovs, nor in the Shas-Ma'ayan Sephardic girls' schools. All the pupils in these schools learn the entire spectrum of Jewish law, and all learn the various nuances of each community. An Ashkenazi pupil can study in a Shas Sephardic school. A Sephardic pupil can study in a Beis Yaakov. Both will learn the gamut of Jewish law. Both will learn their own unique customs.
Ironically, the Supreme Court proposed its own “separation” that the original Beis Yaakov and Chassidic Beis Yaakov and by the way the Shas-Mayan schools never do.
But more importantly - where does the secular Israeli Supreme Court base its right to alter nuances in religious 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?
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Jews are not a race.
There are not races of Jews within the Jewish people.
According to Jewish law, if one is born to a Jewish woman or converts according to Jewish law, that person is Jewish.
If the father is Jewish and the mother is not, the child is not Jewish.
The orthodox believe that a Jew is required to follow the commandmants of the Torah.
Jewish peoplehood cannot be undone.
Both the exclusivity of matrilineal descent and the existance of conversion to Judaism show that Jews are not a race.
Have you noticed that so far no one has even offered a definition of the terms "Sephardic" and "Ashkenazi"?
Sephard is Hebrew for Spain. Sephardic Jews are the descendants of the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. They moved to North Africa, Western Europe - Holland and England - some to Eatern Europe, Italy, even as far as Iraq. Colloquially, the term Sephardic also refers to Jews of Yemenite and Iranian communities, though these are more accurately referred to the Edut HaMizrach - the Eastern communities.
Ashkenazi refers to the Jews of middle and western Europe, although Jews from the expulsion of 1492 also made it to Eastern Europe. The Chmielnicki pogroms of 1648 and 1649 found Jewish refugees moving from Poland to the Sephardic communities of Turkey. We do not fall into neatly divided sub groups.
In the Haredi world, the terms Sephardic and Ashkenazi mainly refer to the traditions you keep. Traditions here refers to what is permissible to eat on the Passover holiday, the prayer liturgy used in the home, etc. The rule of thumb is that traditions generally go through the father, but this is not an absolute. I personally know three young men who happen to be of European heritage who took upon themselves the Sephardic traditions. Two did so because they married Sephardic women. One simply wanted to follow the Sephardic traditions and be part of that community. They are now Sephardim. Their heritage has nothing to do with it. All this time people are using these terms without defining them. One definition is ethnic, the other emphasizes minhagim - traditions. It appears that the secular press defines these terms according to ethnicity. And what about all the many marriages between Jews of European descent and Middle Eastern descent?
The Administration of the Chassidic school refused Judge Levi's very unusual separation order, so Judge Levi ordered the schools to unite under the original school. The press has skipped over this crucial fact. The Chassidim of Emanuel were not merely refusing to unite, they were refusing Judge Levy's own order to separate according to terms that they do not recognize in the first place.
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.
STALKED TO 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.
Why? The parents – Ashkenazi, Sephardic, blended, etc - followed the order and signed up their girls in another school that is in line with their philosophy.
Since that day the girls in the Chassidic track learned in the homes of their teachers.
The next day in court was June 15. Judge Levy ordered the parents back to the original more lenient school, saying that the Supreme Court is the highest authority. In response to that perceived insult of the supremacy of the Torah and the Rabbis who lead them, the fathers cried out, “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!”, and “God is Lord!” repeatedly. Then Justice Levy said in anger that the parents will be jailed for two weeks for contempt of court.
None of the parents were ever tried or cross examined. There was no formal hearing.
Two days later there were peaceful marches in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, accompanying the fathers to jail. This was a pre-emptive, peaceful march, done before the parents had received the written order for jail. Over 100,000 people attended teh demonstration despite the very short notice. The mothers made their way to jail, but secretly dispersed and went into hiding with their children, since they had not received the actual jail order, hoping that the judge would relent and not imprison them.
On Tuesday June 22 there was another hearing for the mothers. No reporters were allowed in. Many mothers are pregnant or nursing, and have small children. Again, they just sat, no questions, no cross-examination, and were told they must send their girls to the original school, and again threatened with jail time. Judge Levy wagged his finger at the women and said, "in one hundred and twenty years, you will have to account for not heeding the Supreme Court!"
He really said that. Judge Levy used the traditional euphemism for the after life and threatened heavenly judgment on the defendants. Since when does a judge in a secular court make threats about the afterlife, a religious topic?
After they left the chamber, the news arrived that the Rabbi’s wife had miscarried. Her unborn child was four months term. The Rabbi himself was in jail. He was not allowed to be with his bereaved wife until the following day. Then Judge Levy exempted all women who are pregnant or nursing from jail, leaving nine women total.
On Sunday morning, the imprisoned fathers and nine mothers were called to court, again, given no opportunity to speak. The Judge was obviously angry at the parents refusal to put thier girls in the original Beis Yaakov - a school that they do not wish to. The parents thought they were in for a prolonged jail sentence.
Then Eli Yishai of the Shas Sephardic political party came running in with a statement from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of the Sephardic community. Rav Yosef re-iterated the plan of having all the girls in Emanuel, including the two schools not in question, meet for three days of lectures on the subject of loving one’s fellow, on condition that the fathers be released. This plan had been rejected by Judge Levy the previous Friday. Now he agreed to it.
The fathers were released, families re-united.
We are still unsure as to whether there will be a Chassidic school for the upcoming year for the girls who wish to attend.The hearing for that is scheduled for August 25 2010, a mere week before the term is to begin. Another social scare tactic.
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 Slonimer 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 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 BEIS 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.
MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE in the 1980's
Middlebury College, late 1980’s. A great place to learn languages, ecology (we would walk to eco labs in the beautiful forests and fields of Vermont), and the international flavor meant it was a great place for those studying political science. I want to focus here on race relations at Midd in the 1980's, and the concept of vetting students both academically and socially, as the haredi schools do. Things may have changed a lot since at Middlebury, and I herein cast no aspersions on the College. Quite the opposite, the Midd administration was highly active in promoting good relations on campus among the various ethnic groups.
Internal tensions could run pretty high. Meetings were held to resolve these tensions but I felt they accomplished little. Minister Dr. Charles King flew up from Atlanta twice to speak to a packed house at the chapel, which was good of the college to host him, but follow up discussion among students showed real divisions remained. In one setting, after the speech and a smaller group continued the discussion, a white student asked, do blacks feel attached to Africa? It was great to have open discussion but I was sad at how foreign we all were to each other. It did not seem right. And many students were offended by his boisterous presentation, though in the follow up discussion he was much more mellow.
Many African American students were outspoken that they did not feel at home there. Yolande Smallwood, of blessed memory, spoke about her feelings as a black student at Middlebury at one such meeting: “I was at the orientation in (her hometown in) Chicago, I went home feeling totally alienated. All the girls there, you know, played lacrosse.” We all got what she meant. She added, “The attitude here to the black students is sink or swim.” Two deans were there. When someone brought up that the black students should have some extra help in acclimating to Midd, one of the (white) students said that was discriminatory because it was saying that the black students were weaker. But one of the black students had flunked his freshman year at Midd and we all felt bad about that. I said, “If you are going to let anyone in to Midd then you have to give them the help they need or your attitude really is sink or swim.” Yolande gave me the thumbs up, and a thumbs-up from Yolande meant a lot. I was I guess a balanced liberal, I believed in affirmative action or quotas, that is, giving favoritism to black students on admissions, but recognizing that if they were academically weaker in high school than need be to do well at Midd, then give them help. This was an admission of the weakness inherent in affirmative action, and a solution of how to fix it. Liberals are not always comfortable admitting flaws that are inherent in their innovations. Yolande approved of what I said, and she had a strong voice.
She told me something else btw. A student asked her, why are you black? She told him that her ancestors were from Africa. It was ridiculous that anyone should be so ignorant, and further alienated Yolande
Another black student told me that he is so acclimated to Midd that he feels like a Midd kid in black skin. This did not harm his identity and he was outspoken about civil rights at Midd and class updates I receive from Midd show that he continued after graduation to be active in supporting the black community.
(I remember Yolande as warm, good humored and well spoken. I was saddened to hear of her death in a car accident in Italy.)
I forget the next woman’s name, but she left a big impression on me. Tall, African American, beautiful, Christian, and so lady like you feel embarrassed around her, Sara had a royal presence. Senior year, just before graduation, she wrote a scathing article in the Midd newspaper about how when she was a freshman and meeting with the academic advisor, Sara said she wished to study Russian and international politics and economics. The advisor guffawed, suggesting Music 101 instead. This insulted Sara deeply. What an awful way to start your college years. She did take Russian and did very well. (Details have been changed to protect privacy)
Was the counselor racist? Maybe the counselor honestly thought that, having been let in due to affirmative action, this student may not have been up to the stiff challenge with a professor who was notoriously demanding.
Affirmative action meant that some students were admitted who may not be up to the standards expected in that school. Sara was admitted but she was not accepted as "in". The liberal response had to chalk this up to subtle racism, without questioning the system. Liberals are good at questioning conservative or traditional systems. Liberal innovations are sacrosanct.
Haredi schools give you a 2-3 page list of explanations and expectations of the given school. If Midd had done this, it would have gone something like this in the late 1980’s:
“Middlebury College is highly competitive academically and excellent writing skills are expected. The atmosphere is generally feel-good. Students can and will be involved in environmental and social activism, but not be expected to assume an intense or cynical disposition. Midd kids study hard, play hard, and socialize in a light and fun atmosphere. It is New England liberal, not radical left. This means universal tolerance for all who eat politely, are well groomed, hard working, and who will contribute something concrete to a stable society, whether that means American society or elsewhere. New England liberalism is tolerant in the sense that it values privacy, so if someone is, say, fundamentalist Christian or gay, that is okay as long as they fit the above description, but they are not expected to engage in evangelism or activities that revolutionize societal concepts of sexuality. Identity politics are acceptable if such efforts lead to a stable society, but not if it leads to fragmentation. Interpersonal harmony is a prime value. For those seeking a more revolutionary culture we refer you to Oberlin, Wesleyan, Hampshire Colleges and the like.
(For those leftists hunting for subtle racism, the modern McCarthyism) – Midd’s roots are White-Anglo Saxon nominally Protestant, but any student adhering to the above precepts will find his or her place there. Midd was one of the first colleges to admit a black student name Alexander Twilight, and a building is named after him.”
I actually enjoy the value on interpersonal harmony that is part of classic New England culture as well as the Haredi world. This gets lost in the left, a place I have come to regard as abusive of people. Sometimes abusers are nice to their victims, even say nice things about them, but they remain abusers.
I know it is not in vogue to hear good things about the Haredi community, but I feel that what the Haredim do in school admissions should be universally adopted. Schools should spell out their academic and social expectations. Students should not be foreign to each other, they should have been vetted both academically and socially. Once you are in a Haredi school, you are 100% accepted. I am very different from the Israeli Haredim I live around, I have most definitely said and done culturally incongruent things many a time, but my kids are 100% part of the system and I am always included.
What happened to Sara above would have been prevented with proper academic and social vetting. Maybe that counselor was subtly racist, or maybe she thought the black students were admitted due to affirmative action so they may not be up to the academic challenge of Midd. In the Haredi world, where a sense of comunity and belonging is a value, once you are admitted you are "in" as well. That is why Haredim vet admissions.
Schools should differ widely from each other to give people choice. By spelling out its academic and social expectations, it preserves the integrity of the place and prevents discrimination because anyone can decide to adhere to the precepts; they are not race-specific. That should be fine with those on the left but I think many leftists seek causes and cannot be placated because what would they have to fight if solutions were at hand? This brings us to the concept of identity politics, in which the rights of minority groups are brought to the forefront via consciousness-raising; since minority groups cannot achieve a voice as a minority, their rights must be sought through political and social activism. This sounds nice and accompanies jargon that is difficult to disagree with. The problem is that there is no end to the minority groups that activists seek and create. They must keep looking for causes, and when that dries up, they must create minority groups.
The Beis Yaakov Imanuel case was one such effort to create a splinter minority group that those seeking activism in identity politics can fight for. But this is a dynamic community. The Chassidic school posted its rules that anyone can adhere to. They were even open to sitting with Mr Lallum to review the rules, and dropped their prayer accent. You are welcome to visit and see that kids flow to and from this school, sometimes new Sephardic families sign up, sometimes Ashkenazic families transer out. So those members of the Sephardic community that claimed exclusion can simply change their minds and adhere to school precepts - they are not a distinct group that is disempowered. But identity politics activists are thirsty for causes that splinter traditional and conservative communities.
A big issue is the level of modesty on the part of the men in dealing with women. There are men who either were not raised in religious homes or who never learned concepts of modesty hat Haredim adhere to. They do not respect boundaries between themselves and women. While the left rails against sexual harassment at work, they do not value the level of modesty and boundary-respect in male-female interactions in the Haredi world that actually can help prevent harassment. Such respect of boundaries empowers women. This includes men and women moving away from each other as they pass each other on the sidewalk, not jostling women to get ahead in line at the store, sitting separately in public transportation, "guarding the eye" which means no staring, looking slightly away from each other when talking, no talking in the street between women and men who are not related. Many do not talk in the street to their own family members, but are warm to each other in the home. It works, it is empowering, and it amazes me when leftists provoke such delicate and healthy boundaries. Again, they seek causes to fight that do not really involve rights. Identity politics activists do not fight to preserve the rights of convervatives and traditionalists, Haredim are a minority, why not fight for their rights to modesty?
I was outgoing about being liberal-left at Midd and those who knew me would probably guffaw at my religiosity now as well as my criticism of the left. I grew up in the belly of the liberal-left "beast" so I can tell you about it.
GOOD THINGS ABOUT LIBERALS
When they are intellectually honest and not on a hunt for subtle racism and sexism, the modern witchunt, liberals truly care about social causes, believew that people should think things through with a broad array of information, and have the room to accept religious people. I had much support from most of my liberal friends when I became religious, they felt it was my right since it was my personal choice. They are not supportive of blind faith when it comes to doctrine,especially if that doctrine interferes with personal freedom. They want to know WHY. But they will support blind faith when it comes to challenges in life. A religious person can say "I have faith that this tragedy happened for a spiritual good." Or even, "I have faith that God commands me to fast on Ramadan/Yom Kippur/ to give up something during Lent." But liberals will not like, "I have faith that I should not marry outside of my religion." The last one interferes with personal freedom.
Warm hearted liberals are not good at differentiating themselves from the provocative left, even though they might find provocation and inflammatory rhetoric distasteful. This is where, sadly, liberals function as a Trojan Horse for leftist provocation.
The provocative left is a small miinority in the liberal world, most liberals do not provoke traditionalists and conservatives.
For more information and comment, see:
Lallum Did Not Keep His Word to the Beth Din. The Beth Din Responds:
Beith Din Tsedek
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)
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.
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
Indication that Yoav Lallum's suit receives funding form the New Israel Fund:
BROKEN URLS TO NIF WEBSITE AND HA-ARETZ NEWSPAPER:
As I note above, there are URL's to the NIF website and to HaAretz newspaper that no longer work. Here is the website that you can use to search for archived articles, but you need the original URL (web address of the article):
I had the original URL of the NIF links, but not of all the original HaAretz articles.
I struggled with whether to speak out at the time of the Immanuel case and I struggle now with exposing this apparent cover up by the NIF and HaAretz of their role in spreading misinformation about the school, about Haredim, and about Judaism. I also struggle with posting the court documents that misrepresented the school and in not granting a trial to the parents. With the misinformation spread at the time, the apparent cover up now, and the lack of due process by the secular Israeli Supreme court, major secular Jewish organizations have acted unethically, declared that they manipulated the media, and wrought injustice. My goal is of course to fix and prevent further injustice, but I also fear that this can be used as fodder for antisemites. Maybe it is better for people to think that Haredim are a little primitive than to think that major secular Jewish organizations did the above. I don't know.
Here are the HaAretz articles that as of November 2014 are listed in the search engine. I unfortunately did not copy the URL's of the original articles published between 2007 and 2010, I did not suspect that search enginges could be tampered with or that HaAretz could possibly erase the articles written at the time:
The next article by Yair Ettinger in the list concerns Haredi internet sites, I do not know why it is posted under the Beit Yakov Immanuel search:
This article has no reader comments:
Here, the title is, "Ashkenazi parents get okay for private school in Immanuel segregation row": This was published after the fathers were released from jail, one third of whom were Sephardic, yet HaAretz continues to use such rhetoric:
(There are about thee more articles on that search option)
The next step is to track down the original articles published in HaAretz between 2007 and 2010 and compare them with those listed here. And I am still struggling with whether to do it at all.