Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Cheshvan 5769 - November 27 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Jerusalem Municipality's Legal Advisor Threatens to Stop Funding Bais Yaakov School

By Yechiel Sever

The Jerusalem Municipality's legal advisor, Atty. Yossi Chavilio, is threatening for the first time to impose budget sanctions on the city's chareidi education system. In a letter given last week to the head of the Unit for Chareidi Education, Rabbi Itamar Bar Ezer, Chavilio threatens to instruct the municipal treasurer to halt funding for the Bais Yaakov school in Ramot Alef if the girls using three classrooms at a nearby government religious school do not vacate the building within 14 days.

The letter was delivered at the height of complex legal proceedings that have been taking place for several months in this case, where legal decisions have been issued contrary to Chavilio's stance. These threats could portend a policy shift regarding chareidi education at the Jerusalem Municipality as Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky prepares to leave the mayor's office.

The affair began months ago when, as a result of extreme overcrowding at the neighborhood's chareidi schools, an arrangement was made to allocate classroom space at the government religious school, which was largely unused. Earlier a decision had been reached to shut down the school, but the parents of the small number of students fought to keep it open. Now a number of students are brought in from other neighborhoods to boost enrollment.

According to an agreement between the Department for Chareidi Education and the Education Administration of Jerusalem ("Manchi"), permission was granted for Bais Yaakov students to use three classrooms, with another three classrooms slated to be made available to them as well. Since both are municipal schools, the agreement between the two municipal departments was sufficient.

Parents of students at the government religious school then launched a campaign to remove the Bais Yaakov classes from the building. A parents' committee filed a court petition against the municipality, arguing that the Bais Yaakov school is not defined as a full municipal institution but rather a "recognized but unofficial" institution.

A court battle then ensued. The day after the municipal elections Chavilio sent a fierce letter explicitly threatening to cut off funding for the school unless the three classrooms were vacated within two weeks. The administration at the Bais Yaakov school and Chinuch Atzmai officials are currently assessing legal options.

Paradoxically the Education Ministry has refused to allocate additional classroom space to alleviate the crowded conditions at the Bais Yaakov school in Ramot Alef by arguing there are empty schools in the neighborhood. Yet when efforts are made to use these facilities, the Education Ministry claims Chinuch Atzmai must find buildings of its own to house the school.

"For the first time the legal advisor is threatening to impose sanctions," said Rabbi Tzvi Baumel, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai. "I don't know whether this is legal since the case is still pending in court. Chavilio rushed to find a way to vacate the building quickly though the government- religious school stands empty while our institutions are battling for every square meter. I don't know with what authority and under which legal mantle he dares to threaten to stop funding, and we'll respond through legal channels to this letter with hopes and prayers that integrity and fairness will overcome inexplicable envy, for the sake of neighborhood children crying out for a decent roof over their heads."


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