Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5763 - September 17, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Chareidi Education in Israel - 5763
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

It is back to school for everyone. Following are reports about the major chareidi school systems as the year begins, kein yirbu.

Students in Jerusalem's Chareidi Education System Continue to Increase

by Betzalel Kahn

The number of students in Jerusalem's chareidi education system continues to grow, paralleling a rise in the number of Arab students as the government and government-religious education system in the city continue to show a steady decline, according to municipality figures announced this year at the annual press conference preceding the first day of school.

This year 176,000 students will be studying in city schools, including 64,739 students enrolled in government and government-religious schools, 34,823 in the Arab sector and 76,256 in the chareidi sector.

In contrast to the 3.1 percent increase over last year in the chareidi sector, the number of students in the general education system shows a marked decline. Over the last eight years enrollment in government and government-religious schools has dropped by 7,680 students, a decrease of 12 percent. In the Arab sector the number of students rose by 13,971 during the same period, up 67 percent!

The City of Jerusalem figures for chareidi education in the upcoming year -- reported in a special booklet prepared by the Department of Chareidi Education staff, headed by Rabbi Binyomin Cohen -- show 16,200 children are enrolled in kindergartens, up 1 percent; 40,774 students are enrolled in primary schools, up 4.5 percent; 17,700 students are enrolled in high schools, up 1.7 percent; and 1,582 are enrolled in special education schools, up 9 percent.

The Department spent a total of NIS 25 million preparing for the school year, funds allocated to activities such as NIS 4 million to set up temporary structures and NIS 2.5 million to perform structural inspections and convert empty spaces into classrooms. A total of NIS 3.5 million was earmarked to equip new classrooms, NIS 8.5 million was spent on renovations and NIS 6 million was spent to remove safety hazards.

According to Department figures, chareidi schools face a shortage of 900 suitable classrooms. In the upcoming year the Department will break ground at three construction sites. Department spokesmen say 40 percent of the city's chareidi students study in classrooms located in temporary structures, in classrooms with inadequate facilities and in makeshift facilities in existing buildings and rented buildings that are difficult to adapt into suitable classrooms. Since the construction budget has not yet been brought up to par, the Department is, however, continuing to arrange alternative classroom facilities.

Department spokesmen say they hope to improve conditions in classrooms that lack proper ventilation or insulation. Last summer a total of over NIS 1 million was spent to install air conditioners. Due to the wide geographical distribution of schools and students this year, the Department received NIS 1.5 million to pay for 50 percent of bus tickets for approximately 6,000 students from families with limited means.

In the upcoming year the Department will begin a traffic- safety program in cooperation with the Municipal Sports Authority and the Transportation and Education Ministries. A sum of NIS 500,000 has also been earmarked to help in the construction of a pedagogic center where educators will be able to participate in special courses and obtain enrichment materials and didactic aids.

Mayor Ehud Olmert says that in the coming year the construction of another 40 classrooms and annex rooms will be completed at three schools in the chareidi sector and 31 temporary structures will be set up at 14 schools.

Over 52,000 Students in Bnei Brak Schools

by A. Cohen

Some 52,500 students filled Bnei Brak classrooms--up 1,000 over last year's total--in kindergartens, classrooms and Chinuch Atzmai institutions, posting the largest proportional increase throughout the Gush Dan region.

City secretary and spokesman Avrohom Tannenbaum says 20,524 children are enrolled in primary schools, including 2,907 in the city's chareidi program for boys, 10,727 in the city's chareidi program for girls, 5,000 in public talmudei Torah, 1,085 in government-religious schools, 505 in government (non- religious) schools and 300 in special education. The city's chareidi education system comprises of 30 schools, in addition to five government-religious schools and two government schools.

In the upper grades 11,438 students are enrolled, including 4,286 in eight chareidi schools, 5,000 in public chareidi schools, 1,560 in four government-religious schools and 592 in the city's single government school.

The city's kindergartens include 4,774 children in 154 classrooms run by the city's chareidi education system, 6,000 children in public chareidi kindergartens, 609 children in 21 government-religious classrooms, 66 children in two government classrooms and 230 children in special education programs.

Enrollment in the city's chareidi kindergartens has increased substantially with 1,067 children in the 3-4-year-old bracket and 1,775 five-year-olds. While younger children are streaming to private kindergartens as well, a large proportion of five-year-olds are enrolled in the City's programs, reflecting the high level of professionalism among its kindergarten teachers and excellent educational services. Most of the city's kindergartens are equipped with air conditioners and other necessities.

This year two new chareidi kindergarten classes opened in the area of R' Yehuda HaNossi St. as residents began to occupy newly constructed apartments in Kiryat Moshe and other neighborhoods.

Two new tracks have been introduced to the chareidi sector in the area of special education: an additional kindergarten on Orleans St. set up for children with cerebral palsy and a class for PDD children in the neighborhood talmud Torah.

In addition to public and city programs Bnei Brak has another 50 yeshivos ketanos with a total of 9,000 talmidim.

R' Tannenbaum says construction and development is showing an impressive upswing throughout the city. The Rav Wolfe Seminary, located at the Pardes Berman site, is building 36 spacious new classrooms at a total cost of NIS 19 million. The Gerrer Seminary, also located at Pardes Berman, is spending NIS 16 million to build 24 classrooms. In addition to classrooms both facilities contain workshops, pedagogical centers, libraries and administration rooms.

The Beis Yaakov primary school in the Zichron Meir neighborhood is replacing temporary structures with 15 new classrooms (including kindergarten rooms) and a gymnasium/auditorium at a cost of NIS 6 million. The Central Beis Yaakov School on Rambam St. is building a new wing with six classrooms, at a cost of NIS 1.5 million, joining the new wing opened there three years ago. The General City High School is building a new NIS 1.5 million wing with five classrooms in addition to the new wing opened there last year. Two new kindergarten classrooms are currently under construction on Rav Meltzer St. at a cost of NIS 1.2 million.

In the coming year, ten classrooms are slated for construction at the Bais Yaakov school in the Ramat Aharon neighborhood, to replace ten classrooms currently housed in temporary facilities. This construction project also promises to provide a solution for the Shemayo Network's kindergarten and enrichment center for hard-of-hearing children. Ten new kindergarten classrooms are slated for construction in the new residential area at Pardes Berman.

At Talmud Torah Pnei Menachem ten new classrooms will be built. At the Ateres Rochel Seminary in Shikun Hei eight classrooms will be built at a cost of NIS 3 million. At the Beis Malka Seminary eight classroom are in accelerated planning stages and 16 classrooms are scheduled for construction at the Vishnitz Seminary at the end of Ezra St. to replace the substandard facilities in which the classes are currently being held.

At the 1.5-acre (5.5 dunam) talmud Torah site in the Pardes Berman area five talmudei Torah are slated for construction: Shaarei Tzion (Talpiot), Toras Emes, Pri Chodosh, Lekach Tov and Boston. At the Or Hachaim site Mifal Hapayis has approved budget allocations for the construction of three talmudei Torah--Ish Matzliach, Or Mordechai, and Kinor Dovid-- in coordination with the Ministry of Education.

In the area of special education 24 classrooms will be built at Aleh, located in the north of Bnei Brak. Also, a building to house Yeshivas Orchos Chaim is slated for construction and another floor will be added to the Darkei Chinuch School.

70,000 Students in 250 Chinuch Atzmai Schools Across the Country

by Betzalel Kahn

Despite logistical challenges and severe financial shortages the 5763 school year got a smooth start throughout the Chinuch Atzmai network.

This year the administration decided to open schools several days earlier to provide instructors sufficient time to prepare students for the yomim noraim. Following numerous hurdles and a four-day delay, 70,000 students stepped into classrooms in 250 Chinuch Atzmai schools across the country last Tuesday.

Though enrollment was up several thousand students over last year, the Chinuch Atzmai system is currently facing budget cuts after the government decided to reduce allocations for teaching hours and transportation, in the framework of its extensive budget cuts. The Chinuch Atzmai network, which has always known budget cuts, now faces the prospects of having to close schools in remote locations and classrooms in disrepair as well as an inability to provide transportation for students. At the time the budget was passed it was clear these reductions would make it impossible for many parents to send their children to Chinuch Atzmai schools.

At Chinuch Atzmai offices lamps burned late into the night as the first day of school neared. Last-minute hitches such as housing crunches and logistical problems triggered by the financial crisis piled up, but b'ezras Hashem through the efforts of senior administrators, UTJ MKs and activists across the country, solutions were eventually found and the school year opened without incident.

The Chinuch Atzmai administration says the budget cuts are ongoing and extensive efforts are being made to allow Jewish children to continue their studies in the Chinuch Atzmai system undisturbed.


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