Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Teves 5765 - December 29, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











City of Raanana Tries to Drive Out Chareidi School

By S. Bruchi

"The City of Raanana is making cynical use of the court for political purposes," charged MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni during court proceedings in the Kfar Saba District Court against Chinuch Atzmai and high school principal, Mrs. P. Bruner.

The City of Raanana pressed charges against Mrs. Bruner for allegedly violating the court order prohibiting the irregular use of a rented residential building for educational purposes without a legal permit.

MK Rabbi Gafni, who has assisted the city's chareidi school and high school since their founding, asked to appear as a witness to testify against the City and the Mayor for scheming against the chareidi high school.

Testifying for over an hour and a half, Rabbi Gafni demonstrated that the City of Raanana has been trying to undermine the city's chareidi high school since the day they were founded due to discriminatory political motivations.

After relating how the school was started Rabbi Gafni noted that "Stop the Chareidim" signs were first seen in Raanana, where war was declared against chareidi upper school education. These signs played a significant role in forging the Mayor's opposition to the new high school. "When I sat down with the Mayor and tried to dissuade him from the decision to close the high school he said, `What can I do? Look at the signs,'" explained Rabbi Gafni.

"The Mayor told me he was willing to provide the license for the school at its present location, but that there be an agreement [he can present to] the opponents to have the school be transferred to Kfar Saba. They proposed an interim solution of two years and meanwhile another solution would be found so they could say in the long-term the school would not remain. If the school is such a nuisance to the neighbors, why another two years? Have it closed right away!" exclaimed Rabbi Gafni.

"In 5762 the school received a permit from the Education Ministry. One day the director of the Education Ministry's department of recognized, unofficial schools notified me that she would have to cancel the license. She told me the school was functioning on a high level and that all was in order from the Education Ministry's standpoint, but the City of Raanana was pressuring her to shut down the school.

"The City of Raanana's conduct indicates there is a political battle taking place here using whatever means necessary — including pressure on the Education Ministry and cynical use of the court — instead of solving the problem.

"The Mayor is a good mayor, he wants to help the school — as long as its leaves Raanana. If the school leaves Raanana because of a discriminatory struggle it means the entire system in the State of Israel is collapsing. And if we accept this approach in an open-minded city like Raanana, where every man should be entitled to lead his life as he sees fit, and we give up and move to Kfar Saba or another location it means there is no room [for chareidim] in any other city in Israel and we'll have to move into ghettos.

"The City of Raanana is taking Jewish children and making them into pawns for political ends, and the City of Raanana is making cynical, political use of the court.

"The issue has been formally raised on several occasions in the Knesset Education Committee chaired by MK Shalgi, who has no great fondness for the chareidi sector but who nonetheless strongly criticized Raanana city officials for their conduct in regard to the school. The City of Raanana is evading public discussion, not answering any questions from public or political figures regarding the issue [of] not having us leave Raanana.

"The current facility is not suitable for a high school but rather than allocating a suitable building site as is done at every local authority with girls to accommodate, all the City has done is to declare the building unsuitable, reaping the rewards of its evil deeds."

The Education Ministry would like to see the problem solved but due to political considerations the Mayor is making every effort not to allocate a suitable site, thereby keeping the Education Ministry from building.

At a later hearing Chinuch Atzmai Director Rabbi Alexander Miller appeared, saying that his job is to travel from one local authority to the next to arrange for construction sites. "In almost every case I receive positive responses, with the exception of the City of Raanana, where unfortunately I was unsuccessful despite appeals by us and various MKs."

While the City of Raanana wanted the case to focus on the legality of using the building as a school, following Rabbi Gafni's testimony the trial turned into a public hearing over whether the City of Raanana is obligated to provide a lot for the school.

The court elected not to rule on the question of contempt of court and delayed subsequent hearings for a period of four months, honoring a request by the plaintiff's counsel to bring in witnesses to counter MK Rabbi Gafni's claims.


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