Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Elul 5764 - August 25, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











161 New Classrooms for Chareidi Institutions in Beit Shemesh
by Betzalel Kahn

The City of Beit Shemesh agreed to the majority of requests by chareidi directors of educational institutions and United Torah Jewry city councilmen to allocate classrooms and other facilities in various neighborhoods, based on the needs of the institutions and the composition of the neighborhoods. At a press conference called by Mayor Daniel Vaknin, a list of the new allocations was released, including 161 classrooms designated for the chareidi sector, compared to just 40 new classrooms for national-religious and secular schools.

Two years ago, while MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz was serving as deputy education minister, City Councilman Rabbi Eliezer Greenbaum (UTJ) asked him to approve the construction of a large number of classrooms for the city's chareidi sector, in response to the strain on the chareidi education system resulting from the high rate of natural growth in the chareidi sector.

Following numerous meetings held in Rabbi Ravitz' office, the City of Beit Shemesh received a large number of new classrooms for construction. Last year over 190 classrooms were built, mostly in new neighborhoods of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Several months ago, Mayor Vaknin ask UTJ representatives on the city council to compile and organize the classroom requests from all of the chareidi educational institutions. The councilmen held numerous meetings with educational institution directors and Deputy Mayor Shalom Edri. Recently City Councilman Rabbi Moshe Montag compiled the figures and classroom requests.

In according with the lists generated, Rabbi Montag met with the Mayor and with officials from the municipality's Education Department and together numerous efforts were made to solve the classroom shortage. However, just when it seemed that all would work out fine, three weeks ago a list of classroom allocations very different from the preliminary agreements between UTJ and the Mayor was publicized.

Subsequently, chareidi representatives held numerous meetings with municipality officials and the Mayor, telling them the list was not acceptable to any of the directors of educational institutions. A decision was reached to organize a mass meeting of institution directors and UTJ representatives along with ranking jurists in order to contend with the municipality's decision.

The municipality then began to engage in dialogue with the representatives and directors until eventually the Mayor notified City Councilman Rabbi Moshe Montag the City would honor the original agreement. The mass meeting was then cancelled at the last moment.

"I asked the chareidi representatives to bring the list of requests in writing and I instructed the officials at the municipality's Education Department to allocate the classrooms in accordance," said Mayor Daniel Vaknin at a press conference.

Starting this year, the vast majority of chareidi institutions will be housed in splendid, permanent facilities. Mayor Vaknin also honored requests by the city's rabbonim not to bring non-chareidi institutions into the chareidi neighborhoods.


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