Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Shevat 5768 - January 10, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Hundreds of Students Study by Candlelight After Electricity Disconnected at Chinuch Atzmai School in Or Yehuda

By A. Cohen

The Michtav MeEliahu School and a local kindergarten chain are demanding that the Or Yehuda Municipality reconnect the electricity and resume paying their electric bills.

Their attorney, Guy Bossi, sent a letter to Mayor David Yosef, noting that disconnecting the electricity violates natural laws of justice. "Through your deeds and actions you have issued a decree that the public cannot uphold, leaving hundreds of children and tots...studying in dark buildings and exposed to safety hazards on a daily basis," writes Atty. Bossi, who may seek legal redress if the municipality does not reverse its decision.

In a warning Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, sent to Municipality Director-General Yuval Amir, to the legal advisor and to other municipal officials, he wrote, "There has been deliberate scheming and a desire to constrict and undermine the development and existence of the school, which is a spiritual lighthouse. This constitutes appalling discrimination. Upon taking a tour of the school I saw children with tears, suffering from eye ailments and infections as a result of the lack of light and heating for many long weeks, and a teaching staff working under difficult and disgraceful conditions. This is cruelty and heartlessness on the part of the municipality. All of the municipality's legal arguments are irrelevant, for it cannot be that the problem exists only in Or Yehuda while in the rest of the country there is no such problem, especially now that the Nahari Law has received final approval."

Rabbi Lazerson called the situation "intolerable" and "unprecedented" in the annals of the State of Israel. "After taking a tour with the principal of the dim, freezing-cold classrooms and dining hall, I still couldn't believe my eyes. My heart bled at hearing the outcries of the teachers and the crying children. These are sights not seen even in refugee camps. For weeks on end 500 boys and girls in the school's two wings have been studying in these horrendous conditions as an orderly municipality and a national government that tries to present itself as orderly come up with evasions and legal arguments based on `support regulations...'"

As part of efforts to solve the crisis Rabbi Lazerson sent an urgent message to the Education Minister asking her to intervene, and parents have gone to ranking city officials to complain about the untenable situation — only to be told they can transfer their children to one of the city's secular schools where services are not lacking. Rabbi Lazerson retorted that despite the hardships, parents would continue to send their children to Chinuch Atzmai institutions.

Recently Interior Minister Meir Shetreet notified the municipality he would grant the City of Or Yehuda NIS 30,000 ($7,800) drawn from reserve funding to pay for the electricity, but the municipality's legal adviser refused to pay the bills, presenting odd legal arguments.


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