Israel – Court Orders Beit Yaakov School to Remove Wall Separating Ashkenazim, Sephardim

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    Israel – After a year of deliberations, High Court Justices Edmond Levi, Hanan Meltzer and Edna Arbel ordered the Beit Yaakov religious school and the Independent Education Center to nullify within a week all discriminatory practices and protocols that separate between Ashkenazi and Sephardic students, including the removal of a wall in the school’s courtyard, unifying the two teachers’ rooms meant for two different “learning tracks” and cancellation of the unlawful levies on parents of students in the “Ashkenazi-Hasidic track.”

    In the courts decision it was also decided that the Emanuel Regional Council is to present an arrangement acceptable to all parties for the separation of the school’s various learning tracks, otherwise the High Court will not authorize the existence of separate learning tracks in the school.

    The petition against the Independent Learning Center, Emanuel Regional Council, and the Ministry of Education was submitted more than a year ago by Noar C’Halacha Youth Organizatoin and Yoav Laloum, represented by Adv. Dr. Aviad HaCohen, following reported discrimination in the Emmanuel institution, which included the construction of separate classrooms and separate entrances for Ashkenazim and Sephardim, imposing Ashkenazi-style prayer, separation fences in the school’s courtyard, and different recess times for Ashkenazi and Sephardic students.

    In the Ministry of Education’s response to the High Court decision, the separation between Ashkenazim and Sephardim at the school was “religious and not ethnic.”

    However, the ministry’s Director-General Shlomit Amichai also demanded that the school remove all signs of physical separation between the two learning tracks and to allow students to decide in which track she wishes to study.

    Amichai also charged that “changes will be put in place in the spiritual code presented by the institution, including the cancellation of the directive that parents teach their daughters to pray at home using the Ashkenazi style, to commit itself not to allow clashes between the binding spiritual authority of the home and that binding at school, and to dress in accordance with the standard dress stipulated by the Rabbinical Council as mentioned in the code.”

    Amichai committed to continued overseeing of the educational institution in order to ensure that there will no longer be any discrimination on the basis of ethnicity.

    “We praise the High Court decision and hope that it will bring an end to the disgraceful ethnic apartheid that exists in the Independent Education System,” said Adv. Dr. Aviad HaCohen.
    “We must hope that from now on, the Ministry of Education will be sure to fill its role in overseeing the institutions of education in order to prevent discrimination on the basis of ethnic background”

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    40 COMMENTS

    1. Kal Hakavod to the court for striking down this disgrace that has no logic or basis in either halacha or civil law. At this time in EY we need achdus, not physical walls separating yidden. We can find ways to allow each community to follow its own derech without such walls which are really a chilul hashem and reflect so negatively on all of klal yisroel.

      • Yes: We obviously do need a secular judge to “teach us” what to do since the heilege rabbonim who perpetrated this chilul hashem for so many years were blind to the obvious damage that such a wall was doing both emotionally to the children and politically to EY’s reputation as a land where all yidden are treated equally….these rabbonim should not be allowed to have any role in the future in teaching our yinglach….

    2. Then we wonder, why are there so many calamities in our communities. This is the biggest disgrace, that we need a court to enforce on us, something that shouldn’t happen anywhere. If the Americans can elect an African as president, can’t we at least live in peace with each other!

    3. What a terrible news story. Are the school officials crazy?!?! Even America ended segregation between black and whites 50 years ago. I can not believe that Jewish people in Israel would behave in such a disgraceful manner. How does a religious person teach about how sinas chinam caused the destruction of the bais hamikdash and then allow such blatent sinas chinam to occur at the school? The teachers at this school who supported this segregation do not deserve to be teaching in a religious institution!

      • What makes that segregation? They are only trying to preserve both cultures!!! I haven’t heard of any sephardic Rabbi that dosen’t want seperate schools for their children were they can give over their mesora

    4. Which one of those “justices” is actually frum? Does anyone posting here know why Sephardim and Ashkenazim were separated? Well, it is a fact that, while virtually all of the Ashkenazi girls come from very frum Haredi families, a large percentage of the Sephardi girls come from families that are very modern and nominally Shomer Shabbos. Further, Israel is becoming a much harder place in which to preserve true Ashkenazi minhagim, especially with the pronunciation of Loshon Kodesh. It is very hard to teach a class to young children when half the kids are reading something one way and the other half is reading it completely differently. So, rather than rejecting girls from Sephardi families, Beis Yaakov has been extremely accommodating in accepting Sephardi girls. Honestly, I don’t see any Ashkenazi girls flocking to Sephardi institutions.

      • That disgraceful thinking is the reason we are in golus. How dare you defend segregation based on family origin? Are they yidin? The US stopped segregation almost 60 years ago. This is a terrible story and a horrific chillul hashem.

      • You are part of the problem! Hashem yerachem! Every circle of Orthodoxy in America has welcomed Sefardim into their Yeshivos and, no, it isn’t easy. But that’s what we have leaders for (Gedolim). They look at the overall picture. See what Satmar did for their Temonim, South Americans etc. sure it was rough in the beginning, but now years later (every 20 years), you’d never recognize which of the fine families originated from Yener Ek Velt.

      • The KKK also had talking points ‘proving’ that blacks were treated as second class citizens for ‘good’ reasons, even reason that supposedly helped the blacks.

        Shame on us for needing a secular court to slap some sense into us.

        • Excellent point. Well said. Do people think that the jews in the time of the second bais hamikdosh didn’t have excuses and p’sukim to validate why they treated other jews poorly. People always seem to find a way to twist the facts and/or the torah to validate hurting others and engaging in sinas chinom. We have to remember that the torah says v’ahavta l’reacha K’mocha. I doubt that the torah meant this only applies to people who are exactly like you (ashkenaz, chassidish…). I suspect Hashem wants all jews to lve each other and work together for common ground. This school is a disgrace. For all those who claim that homosexuality and the like are the causes of holocausts, natural disasters and war, you may want to take a look at this yeshiva’s behavior and wonder how much that contributes as well. To quote Rodney King, “cant we all just get along?”

      • You and your thinking is EXACTLY what is wrong with the system in Israel. There are PLENTY of frum normal Yeshivishe Sephardim that try to get into Ashkenazi yeshivos year after year and have to jump through all kinds of hoops with connections and pull. Why they want to so badly, I have no idea. Probably low self-esteem, but who am I to judge, since I live in America where this sinas chinom is not as prevalent.

        But guess where you can find all these Roshei Yeshivos in the summertime? Deal Shul, of course, with their hands out and a big smile.

      • If it’s true that Ashkenazi aren’t “flocking” to Sephardi schools that’s just because of the prejudices that have been drilled into some Ashkenazi for years, not because Ashekenzi are any better. So what if families have different customs or pronunciations. Let’s let the children learn from each other and most importantly, learn to have respect for one another — unlike some adults.

      • Do me a favor, go round up all your friends that think like you and jump off a cliff together. It is because of people like you that I am sitting here in golus waiting for moshiach and not seeing him. YOU ARE THE ENEMY.

        • thank you for your “kind words” for fellow yidden; it has become the norm lately to respond to one mindless and hurtful comment with an equally venomous comment…..I suspect Moishiach has given up on reading VIN for signs of teshuva from klal yisroel

    5. The fact is that Sefardi minhagim have an older and holier mesorah than Ashkenazi minhagim. If anything, the Ashkenazim in EY should adopt Sefardic minhagim (no hatoras nedarim required), including pronunciation

    6. I love how everyone has these wise comments to say without really knowing the facts. While there definately is a problem with sefardim not being accepted to ashkenazi institutions, there are a few things that always got me wondering. Shas has many more chavrei knesset than Yahadut Hatora, which means that their community in general is larger than ours. Why can’t they open their own mosdos according to their own minhagim? Why do they need us at all? And, in general, the ashkenazi schools are more “farfrumt” with their tznius rules, ways of speech, entertainment etc.. and when many sefardim go to these schools, they don’t adhere to the rules, and then they get annoyed that the school is down their backs. So, instead of going to a school that is not your type, and constantly having run-ins, go to a place that caters to your lifestyle. Not because of discrimmination. Just mentality. Also, my daughter is in an Israeli chinuch atzmai school, and has many sefardi girls in her class, and is good friends with many of them. The ones that are not accepted are generally not mat’im for the way of the school. Everyone would understand a satmar school who won’t accept girls who don’t know Yiddish and come from a totally different lifestyle. It’s not because they’re better. Just different.

    7. In this case the Ashkenazi gedolim clearly ruled that the discrimination is wrong. I believe Rav Elyashiv really pushed for an end to these practices (maybe others winked and nodded while giving the psak). The schools refused to listen or just used less overt discrimination. The schools are under pressure to be elite in the percieved notion of elite and Sephardi names on the class list are not in keeping with elitism. I
      My question to the school administration is are we supposed to listen to Gedolim? Or is it only about tsnius and entertainment that Gedolim are experts ,but in education they aren’t really qualified?
      What message does it give children that the school doesn’t listen to the Gedolim that they promote?

    8. In the times of the bais hamikdash we had segregation if thats what you want to call the twelve tribes of israel!!! Imagine every tribe had their own customs and way of life, they had different working skills, and whats wrong with that? Do you think shevat shimon mixed with shevat yehudah? NO they were different they were different shevatim had different leaders, and THERS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!!.

      • “nothing wrong with that…” the result of their stupid and petty seperation led to the churban hamikdash and the exile, suffering, murder, persecution, destruction, torture … the list goes on of what happened as a result of sinas chinom.

    9. Do I seem to be missing something?
      During Kriyas Yam Suf, the water split into 12 sections, but each section was transparent. To teach us that there are different groups in Klal Yisroel, and while each one is seperate and adheres to their own minhagim, we are still one nation and achdus must reign.
      What I don’t understand is why are the sefardim coming to ashkenazi schools? Shas has its own school system. Yes we love them because they are our brothers and sisters, but the same way we want to keep our minhagim and way of speech, derech of learning etc..so should they. If a sefardi family that wants to send their child to an ashkenazi school has a shaila, who do they ask? A sefardi rav or an ashkenazi rav. So what i don’t understand is WHY they want to come to our schools. I am not belz, skver or lubavitch and therefore have no interest in sending my kids to their institutions. And just because we have different customs and go to different schools, doesn’t mean we can’t live b’achdus.

        • Now that we have a large community of people who have returned to Eretz Yisroel, like in the time of Ezra, shouldn’t we be trying for some unification of minhagim, etc?

      • Incredibly good job of harnessing the power of faulty logic to apply biblical lessons of total irrelevance to paint your bigotry and sinas chinam in the cloak of piety.

        I grew up in EY and attended a chinuch atmo’i school. The bigotry and racism were not even considered in need of concealing.

    10. To #21 and #19
      Not everyone has the luxury of living in an area where there are schools geared to every type of individual. We are not talking about a Yiddish speaking Satmar school.
      We are talking about unaffiliated Bais Yakovs where many students don’t understand Yiddish.
      What happens if a sephardi parent in a town with a masorati Sephardi school, and a Bais Yakov. They have no TV ,Internet or secular papers and Yeshivish standars of tsnius want their kid to be with kids like themI (in level religious observance ,upbringing, not ethnicity) Do you say no to them? Do you say no to Reb Elyashiv.
      Do you damage the chilld by discriminating agaist them?
      The secular press in Israel has a field day with the rampant overt discrimination in Haredi schools. Are you taking responsiblility for damaging the child and the massive Hillul Hashem involved?
      There were times when Yekkes ,Galicianers ,Poilishe,litvaks ,and Hungarian discriminated between themselves too.
      Believe me we would love to be in Sephardic schools that meet our standards and respect or masora.

    11. these cutesy arguments about the 12 shevatim,and Kriat Yam suf make me sick.
      Are you ready to rule dinei nefashot ith your cutesy stories. What would happen if the only svchool in town was admistered by a litvack and he announced to the ten parent that were Chassidic vice versa of any other combination you can create including different Chassidc sects that 12 shevatim ,Kriat Yam Suf blah ,blah ,blah go find another school in a town twent seven miles or we’ll create a special class that teaches nothing….
      after all it in the Torah twelve tribes!!!

    12. to 19, 21

      i agree that you have some decent points, but the fact is that

      1) this isnt the 12 tribes dont act like it is
      2) even if there is value seperating the kids academically in different classooms, with ashki and sephardic teachers respectfully,why on earth should the playground be seperated? what value is there in that?
      3) and most important, while discrimination might have the benefit of preserving minhagim, it also has a huge shortcoming: it promotes divisiveness amongst Jews. I dont know how it worked with the 12 tribes, but i feel (and correct me if im wrong) that here its not seperate but equal. there is a streak of eliteness in the ashenazim (which has existed in all parts of israeli society since the first sephardim arrived). I feel this is what R’ Elyashiv and the courts are trying to combat.

    13. This is such a disgrace to the jewish culture, we have sephardic and ashkenazi schools for a reason! It is the parents choice to chose where they want their child to learn. Coming from a sephardic background, I went to both ashkenaz and sephardic schools, its not just about minhagim because evntually you will chose your path when youre in shiduchim, its about achdus and being TOGETHER!! thats all we need now.

    14. It is well known that the Charedi Bais Yaacov’s give a better education (why, I do not know) than the Sefardic Bais Yaacovs. Therefore, frummer & more learned Sefardic parents want their daughters in the Charedi Bais Yaacov system. The ONLY way to get them in, is to move into a Charedi neighborhood where the local Bais Yaacov is required to take them. If enough sefardi girls come to the school, the school separates the girls from the charedim both in classes & socially.

      It is also well known that “the Best” Charedi Bais Yaacovs will NOT take the daughters of Americans, because they feel the parents are “too worldly”. Cute Huh??

      The Gedolim & the government educational systems have been involved and REQUIRED that all Bais Yaacovs take ALL girls from appropriate homes be accepted. It is well known that the administration (especially the Bais Yaacov in Geula – the “best” Bais Yaacov) has been ignoring these directives for years.

      Supposidly, the administration of the Geula school was told that if they do not stop discriminating, they will all be fired. Isn’t it terrible that those who educate our children are ignoring the directives of our gedolim?

    15. Guess what, we olim from America are in the same boat as the Sfardim. Despite the fact that my wife and daughters attended Bais Yaakovs in the States, we were shunned by the system here. Boruch hashem our daughters survived. The high courts decision is a modern example of “Vayiftach Hashem es pi hachamor”

    16. B”H”

      Now…What is this big division among Ashkenzim and Sepharadim accomplishing in Israel and abroad? I’ll tell you what….ABSOLUTELY NOTHING other than sowing the seeds of our destruction. Everytime this type of rift grows, it brings our people further away from Hashem. Most of our people do not care to open up the Shulchan Aruch to try and understand how it is we as Benay Yisroel are supposed to live? Regardless of whether you are Sephardic or Ashkenaz. Has anyone ever stopped to think about what Hashem thinks about this division of His children? I am sure He must detest seeing Benay Yisroel in-fighting while simultaniously embracing customs and practices of goyim. All you have to do is go back to the Tanach and you can once again realize where we went wrong and where we continue to go wrong. It is because so many of our people have swayed away from observing our laws and beautiful ancient way of life that we have dischord amongst our own people.
      Has it ever occurred to anyone that we are all Jewish? I could be angry for a number of reasons…the bigotry of certain Ashkenazim imposed on Sepharadim in Israel’s pre and post 1948 period. The socialism/communism that they so openly embrace…etc… etc…Miraculously enough I do not subscribe to any divisions in Judaism. I am actually am a Sephardic Chabadnik. They embrace me just as much as I embrace them. In short, we have love and respect for each other as Jewish people and it is beautiful.
      The point is that we have enough enemies out there waiting for the opportune time to wipe us all out. In addition to the sons of Ishmael, Amalek is also out there waiting for just the right time and just as they attacked us as we left Eygpt, they wait today for the right time to strike in the modern day. Amalek in the modern day is what I believe to be the islamic nation of Iran.
      It goes beyond “can’t we all just get along?” It goes beyond being politically correct…being Jewish is NOT politically correct. Those that continue to embrace the idoltrus ways of goyim are those that sadly cannot or are unwilling to meditate in prayer long enough to feel the presence of Hashem and recognize our insignificance to Him.
      To all of my brothers and sisters, Sephardic and Ashkenaz alike…I love you all…Please unite as one and stand together…give up the divisions…religious or not, it doesn’t matter. First, we need unbreakable solidarity within our people in order to take the next step which will be the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Bet Hamigdash speedily in our days…Amen

    17. As someone who lives in Emanuel, I can only say that the secular media is playing this story up to show how “racist” haredi Jews are. The facts are that about half of the girls in the “ashkenazi” school are ethnically sefardis. The girls who attend the Beis Yacov Chasidi in Emanuel have their roots in the following countries: Iraq, Persia, Morocco, Kurdistan, Yemen, India, Egypt, The Old Yishuv here in Israel, Tunisia, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Germany. What makes this school different is its standards, in particular standards concerning tznius (length and tightness of dress), no makeup, no MP3s, etc. The parents who objected to the current standards of the city Beis Yakov either bussed their girls to Bnei Brak or tried to start another school. I have lived in Emanuel for eleven years, have six kids who have been and are still attending schools here. When we first came, there were three schools for boys and one for girls – the only school for girls was the Beis Yacov, which already had within in a split off Chabad school, which soon after moved to its own building. The original Beis Yacov was largely comprised of Chassidic families. The three boys schools were then and continue to be Chabad, Chassidic, and Sephardic. “Chassidic” does not mean “Ashkenazic”. Members of both communities marry each other, so these terms really refer to minhagim (traditions) and not ethnic group. This point cannot be emphasized enough. It is nearly impossible to point to a family and declare, “They are Ashkenazim” or “Sephardim” if you are speaking in ethnic terms. We are already blended. Though some families are still obviously of beautiful Yemenite origin – and their girls are attending the Beis Yacov Chasidi.
      The demographics here changed. Chassidim were moving out, and the flavor the original Beis Yacov was becoming more modern. The formation of the Beis Yacov Chasidi was an effort by members of the original Chassidic population here to re-create the kind of Beis Yacov that they had a decade ago. It was a stricter school – in terms of dress, exposure to media, even to some aspects of Haredi culture that they feel is not for them as in Haredi “rock music”, choice of careers, etc – and certainly NOT of an “Ashkenazic” school! This was after a couple of years of outreach programs meant to encourage people to move the original Beis Yacov back towards its original narrower interpretation of the Israeli Haredi lifestyle. This outreach did not succeed, to the Chassidim formed their own school – in their minds, returning to the original school’s former style.
      Are you aware that this year another school opened in Emanuel? It is called “Beis Rachel and Leah”. It opened under the auspices of the boy’s Sephardic School. Why has that attracted no media attention?
      Because of its small size, Emanuel has been a nice place for people to get to know members of different kinds of communities more easily than in a large city perhaps. That makes this horrendous media fabrication all that more ironic – and painful.

    18. Another point – one of the original founders of the Beis Yacov chasidi, which was founded in 2007, was Rav Ba’adani, a gadol (very well respected Rabbinical authority) who happends to be Sepharadic. Additionally, there were two families who had daughters in both the original Beis Yacov and the Beis Yacov Chasidi at the very same time, proving yet again that this was not an ethnic division. This is a dynamic, fluid society. There were girls who switched back to the original school and those who switched to the Chasidi school the following year. There is an excellent Chabad school, plus dati leumi and charedi dati leumi (chardal) schools in other towns in the Shomron that offer excellent alternatives, and the new Beis Rachel and Leah, run by a wonderful principal and staff, offer yet another healthy alternative for students here.

      I live in Emanuel. I love the variety here, some of which must be preserved in diverse educational institutions. Variety has been instrumental in the survival of the Jewish people, both nationally and individually.

      Next time you hear a news story that touches you, please contact people who live locally to get a sense of what is happening.

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