Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Tammuz 5766 - July 5, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Israeli Reform Movement Tries to Disrupt Chinuch Atzmai

By Betzalel Kahn

The Reform Movement filed a High Court petition against the Education Ministry and Chinuch Atzmai, demanding the cancellation of transportation funding for Chinuch Atzmai. Lacking any other controversial issues to bring before the High Court, the Reform Movement is trying to force Chinuch Atzmai students to enroll at institutions close to home.

The petitioners claim that the Chinuch Atzmai busing program "discriminates against other institutions," and that providing the funding is illegal since the students are not transported to nearby schools. Since the Reform movement in Israel has a minuscule following, the effect of the Reform petition is more to damage Chinuch Atzmai than to benefit its own constituents.

According to the petition, the fact that Chinuch Atzmai uses state funds to cover busing encourages parents to send their children to these institutions rather than institutions closer to home. The case is clearly motivated by an underlying desire to discourage parents — fed up with the failures of secular schooling — from sending their children to chareidi schools.

Although the Finance, Education and Justice Ministries are hard at work on clear criteria for Chinuch Atzmai busing, the Reform petitioners claim that the busing program discriminates "in favor of Chinuch Atzmai students over other students in the official education system . . . without investigating at all into the question of whether there is a genuine need for these students to [attend] a school far from their homes or whether there is a school they can attend closer [to home]."

The petitioners also claim although a government school may be located across the street from the student's home parents elect to send the student to a Chinuch Atzmai school on the other side of the city or in a neighboring city, in which case petitioners hold that the State should not be required to cover transportation costs.

The Reform representatives are asking the court to halt all Chinuch Atzmai transportation funding and are even requesting an urgent hearing to prevent the funding from being transferred before the beginning of the school year. Essentially the Reform Movement is making an effort to disrupt the opening of the school year in the Chinuch Atzmai system.

In response to the case, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said the provocative petition turns light into darkness, good into bad. "The submitters [of the petition] have no idea what they're talking about. Nor do they have any ability to overcome hatred toward their brethren in the chareidi sector, therefore they are not worthy of a response. From a professional standpoint I hope UTJ, together with the relevant government ministries, will reach a professional and equitable solution soon."

Rabbi Avrohom Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, said the petition represents the latest in a series of malicious schemes in recent years by persecutors of religion and education. "The fact that thousands of traditionalist parents from all walks of life want and yearn to educate their children at Chinuch Atzmai schools puts those who pretend to appear in the name of `justice and integrity' ill at ease and robs them of their peace of mind. Jealous of the development and expansion of Chinuch Atzmai they put forth unfounded arguments riddled with inaccuracies with the clear intention of preventing thousands of students from receiving the education they seek and aspire to at chareidi educational institutions."

Rabbi Lazerson said the petition totally overlooks the fact that Israeli governments have always recognized the educational character and full spiritual independence of Chinuch Atzmai and the petitioners even have the gall to claim that Chinuch Atzmai is favored in funding over the government and government-religious education systems while the reality is just the opposite.


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