Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

24 Shevat 5759 - Feb. 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Jerusalem Attempts to Prevent Closing of Secular Schools

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

"This is a difficult but necessary step. On the one hand, there are 400 empty classrooms in secular schools throughout Jerusalem, due to the limited number of people who live in those areas. On the other hand, other schools are overcrowded. There is no choice but to combine smaller schools into larger ones and to use vacant schools for other institutional purposes."

These remarks were made by the director of the Education Administration in the Jerusalem Municipality, Meir Kraus, at the Knesset Education Committee which discussed the closing of secular schools in Jerusalem.

Committee chairman Emanuel Zisman (Third Way) claimed that it is inconceivable for secular schools in secular neighborhoods to close and be replaced by other types of institutions, generally chareidi schools. "Secular residents also have rights in the city, and the closing of secular schools constitutes a battle over the city's character. I call upon the mayor and the Education Department to come to terms with the representatives of the schools which are about to consolidate or close, and to find reasonable solutions to the problem within two weeks. If this doesn't occur, the committee will launch a joint battle with the parents in an effort to preserve these schools. It is unthinkable that criteria such as the opening of registration regions will apply to one sector of the population only: the religious one. This is discrimination, lack of equality and shocking deprivation," Zisman protested.

Naomi Chazan (Meretz) claimed that if a secular school in a secular neighborhood is closed, the neighborhood will become chareidi within a few years. "This has already occurred in a number of neighborhoods," she added.

Rabbi Shmuel Halpert replied. "I don't understand why everyone is so frightened over the fact that a vacant secular school will become a chareidi one. Who is entering those schools, the PLO or the Hamas, cholila? Natural demographic migration is taking place. In the past, Chinuch Atzmai schools were closed because there weren't enough students. Rest assured that the Jerusalem Municipality will not close down a school that has students."

Representatives of the parents claimed that when there isn't a secular school in the neighborhood, parents leave, the neighborhood empties, and chareidim move in. "We also have rights, especially since we are the majority of the property tax payers."

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