Students from the Netivot Moshe School in Haifa's Kiryat
Shmuel neighborhood demonstrated alongside their parents
against Mayor Yonah Yahav to protest the municipality's
failure to meet the school's basic needs. The municipality
recently reneged on pledges to allocate land for the
construction of a larger building, leaving the students to
contend with crowded, difficult conditions.
The Netivot Moshe School was started in Kiryat Shmuel seven
years ago by the Netivot Moshe Foundation with a total of 42
boys and girls. As the reputation of the school and the
dedicated staff spread far and wide, enrollment grew,
reaching 250 students enrolled for next year.
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni brought the lack of space to the
attention of then Mayor Amram Mitzna several years ago, who
met with him and decided to allocate a lot for the school.
But the current mayor neutralized his predecessor's decision,
designating the lot for other purposes. In a meeting with
Rabbi Gafni, Yahav promised to see to the school's needs but
nothing has been done so far despite numerous requests.
The municipality even began to shake off its responsibility
to assist chareidi schools in Kiryat Shmuel, further
aggravating parents. "In Kiryat Shmuel there are other
educational frameworks available," a city official said.
Parents retorted that the municipality cannot force them to
send their children to government or government-religious
The school board, headed by Rav Shmuel Eidelstein, pointed to
a nearby school building that had been shut down five years
earlier. The Netivot Moshe Foundation offered to cover the
costs of refurbishing the abandoned building and to rent it
until a permanent solution was found. The proposal was
originally put forth by former UTJ Councilman Rabbi Aryeh
Blitenthal and adopted by current Councilman Rabbi Chaim
Williger, who has made the issue a high priority since his
Yet the municipality rejected this proposal as well, claiming
that the building had been designated as the site for the
municipal archive. "How can a bunch of papers be put in such
a large place instead of students?" fumed Netivot Moshe
As a result of the city's intransigence a large demonstration
was held outside the municipal building. The protesters,
their parents and the administration staff were joined by
Mrs. Ronit Mintz, chairwoman of the Kiryat Shmuel Committee,
to show her support for the cause. Councilman Rabbi Williger
contacted the Mayor to request a meeting with representatives
of the protesters, but the request was denied.
Given no alternative, the local Netivot Moshe administration
plans to step up the struggle. Rabbi Gafni said he would not
slacken his efforts until a viable solution is found. "I
spoke about this with Mayor Yonah Yahav and I intend to
continue holding conversations with him until a solution is
found. A legally-recognized Chinuch Atzmai school cannot be
simply ignored. This is not a private school and its needs
must be met just like every other school in Haifa."
The mainstream press in Haifa also sympathizes with the just
struggle by the Kiryat Shmuel students and has highlighted