Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Teves 5765 - December 22, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











High Court Ruling to Discontinue All Funding of Chareidi Educational Institutions in Three Years

By B. Kahn and E. Rauchberger

In the latest disconcerting decision by the High Court, yarmulke-wearing Judge Edmund Levy ruled that funding for chareidi educational institutions will be discontinued in three years if they fail to adopt the Core Curriculum Program guidelines. Saying that continuing the funding harms the principle of equality since these institutions do not meet the government's pedagogical requirements, the court upheld a petition filed by the Organization of High School Teachers.

The petition was filed against chareidi educational institutions, and claiming that the failure to teach students in accordance with the Core Program in spite of the NIS 180- million ($42 million) share of the total upper-school budget chareidi institutions receive from the State violates the principle of equality.

According to the Education Ministry's stance in the case the funding transfer is indeed problematic, but the State's Attorney noted that the Education Ministry plans to expand its oversight of chareidi educational institutions to ensure that every student studies the required curriculum — even though the Core Program has been strictly banned by Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah.

The Organization of High School Teachers asked that all funding of chareidi institutions be discontinued immediately, but the Education Ministry claimed since 26,000 students are enrolled in these institutions funding cannot be cut off so abruptly. The State also claimed that severing funding immediately would lead to the removal of Education Ministry oversight of the chareidi institutions and therefore should be delayed until a plan to enforce Education Ministry oversight of chareidi institutions is added to the Core Program.

In his decision, Judge Levy wrote, "When the executive branch elects to channel budget funds to a given institution it does not distribute its own money but money it holds for the public good. Channeling money to institutions that do not uphold the conditions anchored in the law and that do not realize the goals of government education represents a divergence from the authority emanating from the legislature and is a breach of the obligation of loyalty the authority owes to the public from which it derives its power. The funding of educational institutions which do not meet the demands and regulations of the law arouses concerns of violations of the principle of equality."

The Education Ministry was pleased with the decision, which serves its aim of breaking down the chareidi institutions' unwavering refusal to allow any outside intervention in curricular matters as instructed by maranan verabonon gedolei Yisroel shlita, headed by Maran HaRav Eliashiv and the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah.

Following the court's decision, Degel HaTorah Chairman MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz said no change will take place three years from now either. "We will get through this decision, too. I am very surprised at the High Court of the State of Israel, which pretends to be a liberal-minded and democratic high court. It defends the right of every abomination to exist, relying on the fundamental right of freedom of expression and human dignity. Why is this High Court, in such a liberal nation, unable to see clearly that people have the right to educate their children as they see fit, particularly in the case of a form of education that has continued for thousands of years—3,335 years? It sounds audacious to me that they want to teach us how to educate children. Are they coming from a position of stunning success in the secular education system? How can they preach to us and interfere with our lives?

"There is a story about a certain nobleman who would beat the Jews until they began to cry. But the nobleman told his minions to continue beating them. Then the Jews began to laugh. Then the nobleman said, `If they are laughing it's dangerous.' When the High Court mobilizes to fight against tens of thousands of yaldei Yisroel, I begin to laugh. This is unconscionable. They will not succeed in a war against tens of thousands of yaldei Yisroel. The world will not accept it. The [cultured society] in the State of Israel wants to show how liberal it is. The world will see in this endeavor one of the backward nations that enters homes seeking to exert control based on its worldview."

Degel HaTorah Secretary MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni told Yated Ne'eman that the High Court made its claim from a legal, moral and ethical standpoint. However the court erred from a legal perspective, he said, because the law states that the character of chareidi education is to be preserved as determined by gedolei Yisroel and therefore any outside intervention is illegal. Rabbi Gafni said the decision cannot be executed either now or in the future because the chareidi education system will not change in the least. All surveys have shown that the chareidi educational system excels in imparting both knowledge and values, and they point to the success of chareidi education in contrast to the collapse of secular education.

Rabbi Gafni said that instead of interfering with chareidi institutions the heads of government education should be taking care of their own bankrupt system. The heads of the chareidi system will continue their success in education based on the directives of gedolei Yisroel shlita and will not allow any outside entity to destroy the purity of Kerem Yisroel, he concluded.

Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, said that under no circumstances will the chareidi education system accept the High Court ruling, which represents a serious and intolerable infringement on the complete independence of chareidi education, whose status has been legally recognized and entrenched by the Israeli government for over five decades. "Our core is our absolute autonomy in scholastic matters and not relying on any government figure or entity except being subject to gedolei Yisroel, who have always been the sole authority in determining instruction and teaching methods at our institutions. This arrangement has existed for more than 50 consecutive years. It is the cornerstone of our Torah education, which is the apple of our eye, and has no connection to the principle of equality cited by the High Court, because there is no favoritism, but rather a basic and official recognition of our fundamental right to educate our children in the ways of our forefathers."


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