Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Ellul 5766 - September 6, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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











School Year Opens at Chinuch Atzmai Institutions

By Betzalel Kahn

Sunday morning the classrooms at Chinuch Atzmai schools again filled with the sounds of Torah and tefilloh as thousands of tinokos shel beis rabbon arrived at hundreds of boys' and girls' schools around the country, joining the thousands of talmud Torah students who were already back in class two weeks ago.

Following a tour of various schools Sunday morning, Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, said he found it encouraging to see pure Torah education in full swing following months of preparation and battling various government moves to stifle it.

The most severe crisis was in the area of transportation. Tens of thousands of students would be unable to attend Chinuch Atzmai without the extensive busing system that transports children from small, out-of-the-way communities. But government funding was delayed for an entire year. The crisis reached its peak eight months ago when bus companies said they could no longer sustain losses and stopped providing service to hundreds of schools.

Every day 20,000 students make their way to Chinuch Atzmai schools on these bus routes. Although chareidi parents would do whatever it takes to ensure their children receive proper schooling, many parents taking their first steps in Yiddishkeit might opt to send their children to other school systems if bus services are lacking.

"If a child drops out of the Chinuch Atzmai system and transfers to a government or government-religious school this is a tragedy for generations to come," says Rabbi Tzvi Baumel, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai. "All of a sudden the child's future comes to a halt. We see these children who studied at chareidi schools starting Torah-true homes and doros yeshorim. The establishment ideology on this issue is to stop the busing, thereby inducing parents to transfer their children to an education system in shambles."

The "Unnatural" Growth Rate of Torah-Based Schools

A study conducted by the Taub Center for the Study of Social Policy in Israel reported that 10,000 students transfer from one school system to another every year, but failed to account for 7,000 of them.

Every year 1,700 students transfer from government-religious schools to government schools, while 1,300 students transfer in the opposite direction they found. Yet the authors of the study not only overlook the other 7,000 students who transfer to a different school system, but go so far as to write, "The number of students who transfer from the government and government-religious education systems to the chareidi education system is negligible."

Lev L'Achim Director Rabbi Eliezer Sorotzkin has a very different explanation. He says thousands of students leave government and government-religious schools every year and enroll at chareidi schools. "Take the city of Hadera, for instance," he says. On Sunday, "165 children entered first- grade classes at Torah-based institutions. These are students who do not come from Hadera's chareidi families, but children who — if not for the Lev L'Achim enrollment drives — would attend secular schools, with a minority going to government- religious schools."

Now that the enrollment drives are reaching more and more families, says Rabbi Sorotzkin, most enrollment is for kindergarten and first grade.

They prefer to say the migration to the chareidi education system is insignificant, says Rabbi Sorotzkin, commenting on the study. "Rather than researching the numbers they should be investigating why the Israeli public does not want government schooling. We arrive at the homes of secular and traditionalist parents to enroll their children for Torah- based education without any special benefits like meals, busing or anything else. This is a public that cannot be bought. Nor do why have the means to do so. Nevertheless these parents choose Torah-based schools for their children. We talk with parents and they do it of their own free will. Sometimes when enrollment workers come to the students' parents they say, `We've been waiting for you,' or, `Why didn't you come a year or two ago?'"


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