Tel Aviv, Israel – Mayor at Education Conference: Charedim Cultivate Ignorance

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    Tel Aviv, Israel – Mayor Ron Huldai made harsh statements against the ultra-Orthodox education system, which he described as jeopardizing the future of Israeli society.

    “Disillusionment and perhaps rebellion must emerge among the silent civilian majority which would restore Israeli democracy its right and ability to intervene and decide on those issues it holds dear,” he said.

    Huldai was speaking in a debate titled “Educational Core” in an advanced education conference organized by the Kibbutzim College of Education in Tel Aviv. On the opposing side was Knesset Member Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) who said, “The yeshiva student learns about Rabbi Judah Halevi and not about Bialik. We shall not teach about Bialik.

    “Why should it bother anyone that we teach what we want? A Jewish student in state education knows nothing about Judaism at the end of his studies.”

    The conference was attended by some 1,000 education professionals from Israel and overseas, including representatives of the various sectors in the education system: state-secular, state-religious, ultra-Orthodox and Arab.

    Sunday’s debate focused on whether agreement could be reached on basic core studies to constitute a basic and equal study program for all sectors. Consensus, however, was hardly reached.

    Currently, there are seven core subjects which the Education Ministry requires to be taught: Hebrew, Math, English, Bible, History, Literature and Geography. The majority of Israeli schools abide by the program, apart from such educational establishments which were given exemption. Schools which do not include all seven subjects in their curriculum receive less funding from the Education Ministry.

    A debate on whether to impose the core program on haredi institutions has been going on for years. Various budget sanctions against “rebel” establishments were discussed.

    Huldai expressed indignation Sunday over the lack of adherence to the core program. “Everyone teaches whatever they want,” he said.

    “Radical Islamic sectors can educate against the State of Israel, and the state will fund it. The haredim also teach whatever they want, and are unwilling to teach the civic core of subjects, which any modern country would want for its citizens, in order to know what democracy means and be able to sustain themselves as adults and not become a liability on the tax-payer.”

    He further added, “Today the State of Israel is probably the only country in the world where private education is being funded by the public, without it having to adhere to a minimum of educational demands.”

    Huldai also noted, “Due to political pressure, in the name of multiculturalism and other advanced slogans – the State of Israel is funding and cultivating entire insulated and ignorant sectors which are increasing at a frightening speed and are jeopardizing our political and financial strength.”

    MK Gafni agreed that any yeshiva student should be allowed to study subjects even without mandatory knowledge or completion of the relevant matriculation exams. “In any modern country if a person who studied in a yeshiva wants to become an aeronautical engineer, why should he be denied the right to study it? Yeshiva studies are not being recognized as education background.”

    The Shas party said in response that Huldai “prefers foreign children to haredi and is using this pseudo academic analysis to disguise his racism.”

    Shas MK Nissim Zeev called on the mayor to “address the crime in Tel Aviv and not matters handled by the education minister.”

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    48 COMMENTS

      • The greatest ignorance is lack of Torah study, They are all empty barrels producing lots of hate and immorality, Its an embarassment to the Holy Land of Eretz Isroel.

      • your own facts. pointout what sbjects you thing theyre ignorant and we’ll decide if its important to know those subjects to conduct our lives kadas yisroel

      • Well, the Israeli educational system is one of the best in the world, and turns out more PhDs per capita than any other country in the world.
        The Charedi education system, on the other hand, turns out more unemployed and unemployable people than any other educational system in the world, which, according to a recent poll, was 65%.
        Unfortunately, I have no choice other than to agree with him…although I wish it weren’t true.

        • 20 years ago that might’ve been true. But if the teachers strike in Israel a few years ago is any indication then the secular education system has become just as bad as they are claiming the Haredi education system to be.

      • The Israeli education system must be doing something right if it has the most technology companies on NASDAQ. Selling little trinkets in Mea Shearim does not do much for the economy..

      • Let me take a benign approach towards the attitude of the mayor of Tel-Aviv. He is an ignoramus. (different from being ignorant of certain facts.) Not only does he not have any respect or appreciate the cultural value of the vast body of Talmudic literature and Law. That is expected of him. He probably comes from a non-religious background. But that he closes his mind and has contempt for someone who is saturated with Talmudic and worldly knowledge. Then again, acquiring Talmudic studies and the Core subjects of worldly knowledge listed by the Israeli government are not mutually exclusive!

    1. I think this is also evident at home in Brooklyn ny. There are no good yeshvos that have a decent secular program and our kids end up undereducated, they sound like a bunch of schwartes and they are unable to compete in the job market. I was recently interviewing candidates for a job opening and it was sad how poorly the frummer applicants faired. I remember when I was in high school I was on the math team and we used to compete against Flatbush yeshiva (I am a Baal teshuva and went to a secular school). We used to have occasional meets against Flatbush high school (which must would agree has a weak religious curriculum but a strong secular). Those meets were a joke and Flatbush could not even come close. Come on – our people can win 20% if the Nobel prizes – surely we can develop into educated self sufficient adults. Is that really called bitul Torah?

      • Yes, it’s really called bitul Torah. We were put on this world to learn Torah, G-d’s word, the source of all chachmah. Too bad we’re neglecting it.

      • “What’s a Jew To Do”! A Jew is to send his children to a Religious (Chassidic or Litvish does not matter.) School. aka Yeshiva. Where the core studies are Talmud and its derivatives. Then get a good education in Jewish History. Then, enough time (Several hours on a daily basis) should be devoted to acquire a strong knowledge in American History, Math, Social Studies and Geography. And a skimming knowledge of American and general Literature. And yes. some Sports!

    2. I’m proud to be ignorant about many things. Why do I have to be knowledgeable about what this apikorus wants me to be knowledgeable about. Many things that he studies are leading him straight to gehinom. And there are many things that I am knowledgeable about that he is ignorant about and that’s why I’ll be in olam haba while he burns in gehinom!

      • “I’m proud to be ignorant about many things.”

        That, in essence, sums up the arrogance and the ignorance of so many chareidim.

        HaShem yerachem aleinu.

      • You’re obviously a Christian because there is no such thing as hell in Judaism. It was made up to scare us into obeying. Well, guess what, God doesn’t want robots. If He did we wouldn’t have free will or choice. Our greatest leaders were the ones who were educated in everything, from math to torah to science to literature…ect…..Education is essential for a productive and functional society whether you’re religious or not. Anybody who doesn’t seek out knowledge is a waste of skin and soul.

    3. If Haredim want to be able to effectively compete in the job market there needs to be educational reform. No one is saying to teach secular culture. But higher level maths and sciences are important in today’s economy.

    4. Just ask any travel guide that takes the so called college graduates from isreal. Ask them what low life immoral bums these kids are. We have nothing to be ashamed of!. Mayor , you have chutzpah!

    5. There is a very important and true quote that can’t be ignored: “Why should it bother anyone that we teach what we want? A Jewish student in state education knows nothing about Judaism at the end of his studies.”

      At the same time, chareidi students (with little exception) are functionally illiterate. They have no opportunities to work because they have a 5th grade education at best. It is not necessarily about teaching secular culture, but teaching advanced math, science, and computer skills which are all building blocks of a real livelihood in this day and age. We have built an entire generation (or two) that are 100% dependent on state money. They live off the hard work of others while giving little to nothing back.

      I know some will say “they learn for the rest of us”. Nonsense. I know plenty of people who SAY they learn all day, but don’t. All the while they are leaches on society. Taking and taking and taking like pigs at the trough because they have no reason to get a job, nor could they get one if they wanted to w/out an education.

      My generation cannot afford to pay for this generation anymore. We are nearly tapped out. GET AN EDUCATION & GET A JOB ALREADY!

    6. We can all remember the holocust refugees that came to this country, they knew no English, no secular education, with growing families, and somehow made it in to the business world and grew very succesfull without degrees or higher education. If one wants to look at it posetively there are lots of young men after they end Koilel, they become Isurance Agents, Real Estate Agents and are in all fields, some open stores or other businesses. Not all are on Public Assistance or other programs.
      And on the other hand there are many Americans, born here went through College and can’t find work.

      • Don’t compare 1940s to 2010. Times have changed and plus you survive because of American economy. Without your education living in Israel, you would be sweeping streets if that, because the economic opportunity for unskilled people is very limited there.

      • It is the proportions that matter. All societies need sufficient number of higher intelligence people to support and lead those who are of lower intelligence are not economically productive. Normally that is not a problem when their is communal cohesion and the productive elite do not feel that the unproductive are taking advantage. The problem with Yeshiva education at present is that it has given up on the idea that it should produce an elite of sufficient size who can support their less fortunate and unproductive brothers. A few Insurance Agents or shop keepers cannot in themselve support a large unproductive sector and the Chillonim in Israel do not see why they should do so.

      • That is a silly comparison. The economy was different then. The strength in our economy came from PRODUCTION, not the buying and selling of perceived shares in value.

        My grandfathers were bakers, butchers, and a fruit distributor. Today these are menial jobs which our bochurim are not willing to learn how to do, and these jobs do not pay enough to support a family in this day and age.

        Times have changed. Today’s generation has no way to make money. Period. They live on government handouts. They live off the hard work of their neighbors who are barely getting by themselves. Those of us with some financial comfort are expected to just keep paying to fill in the gaps. But as we start to retire, those checks are going to become fewer and smaller. This generation understands NOTHING about hard work. They understand NOTHING about how to support themselves honestly.

        I’m sorry but I continue to feel nothing but shame over this. I would much rather send my money to scholarship funds to send kids to college or technical training schools.

        My parents would be so embarrassed by this generation of beggars. They worked their tails off to show us how to make it the right way!

      • I don’t know about the part of joining the business world in a big way. But the lack of an English education is sure discernible. (i.e. Spelling.)!

    7. I have to agree with the mayor. The Charedi operated yeshivos in Israel are a long tern national security threat to the State of Israel. Every country in the modern world, strives to increase the quality of the students in order to compete in global economy, but Charedi world is turning their children into ignorant and incompetent social burdens on the Israeli working class. Yeshivos teach their students to rely on God and miracles to survive, but when that fails, they use coercion to get more funding from the educated, highly skilled class that is fleeing to Western countries for better quality of life. The future of Israel depends on smart people, not a country that just multiplies but does not improve the quality of its educated masses. Pakistan is a prime example where families of 6 kids send their kids to religious madrasas that the government has no control over. Those religious madrasas produce large burdens for Pakistani government that do not contribute in anyway but only breathe and use tax fund and global aid for survival.
      At least in the U.S. yeshivos can’t do whatever they want because the government will shut them down.

    8. Walk into Meah Sharim where you have families of 16-20 and they don’t take money from the israely gov. and still have money to send their children to private schools.
      Education has no relation to Parnasah. It’s Hashem who writes on Rosh Hashanah exactly how much one should earn.
      If you don’t believe in it please stop calling yourself a religoud jew

      • Those Yeshivos are payed for via government handouts and/or Tzedakah. The students’ families are not paying sufficient tuition to keep the schools running.

        It is not a Miztvah to help those who will not help themselves — only those that cannot.

      • They might not take any money from the Israeli Government on their official name. But with a different identity and papers they Do take. Plenty ((gezinterheit. But don’t say “They don’t take”!).

    9. All those attacking the Tel Aviv mayor in this instance know nothing about the chareidi educational (sic) system in Israel. The products of this system are functional illiterates, cannot multiply or divide, and know nothing about science or other cultures.
      They think that knowing cheftza-gavra and maiseh-chalois gives them enough knowledge to tell their physicians what medication to prescribe, how the conomy should be run, and how to manage international conflict. Their ignorance is exceeded only by their arrogance.

    10. There is much truth to what he says, and instead of knocking him, we should see how we can fix it.
      The fact that there are so many Chareidim who rely on welfare programs and handouts is a major Chilul Hashem, there were many Tanoim and Amoroim who refused to take money from even their students and would use their hands to make a living.
      Why are we any better?

    11. While he may have put it in an impolitic manner, Ron Huldai is correct. Students coming out of the Israeli Chareidi system generally have no grasp of math and science, and are unable to communicate clearly and effectively in writing. As a professional who has worked in both the US and Israel, I can say that without these skills, you can not rise in today’s economy. Yes, I’m sure you can find exceptions; but that doesn’t change the general rule.

    12. My daughter and son-in-law live in a frum Orthodox community in Jerusalem. Their children are sent to highly-reputable Charedi cheders and Bais Yaakovs whose curriculums are outstanding. However, my daughter and son-in-law recognize the lack of attention on secular subjects such as English, Math, Social Studies, etc. so at least once or twice a seek, my granchildren are sent to classes that infuse those subjects which they pay for themselves. Many other Charedi young families are leaning in the same direction. You simply cannot dismiss the value of basic secular subjects.

    13. I have nevr posted here before but could not stand by this one. I grew up as a typical chasidish yungerman. I am indistinguishable from other chasidish people. I also have several advanced degrees and work amongst the highly educated in Manhattan. These people are exactly what we came to believe – a great many are low lifes with shallow lives. While I do mingle amongst them I am PROUD to be a chasidish person. For all of you apologetics I say, get a life. You feel that you haven’t gotten a good enough education, there are options, go out and get one. I am proud at the education my kids get in the yeshiva world and if I think they need that enforced I will worry about it later. Be apologetic – go see what a public school graduate knows. My kids learned the entire public high school curriculum over weekends in the span one year. While all of us true chasidim know that the most important thing in the world is Torah learning, many want to buttress that with an education the non-frum world gets. Others wouldn’t waste any time from Torah study even for that. Yes, many of these people will have a difficult time earning a living, but they rightfully choose hardship over all els

    14. As for those who complain that we are costing them lots of money – that is disingenuous at best. Here in the states, governments spend between $8,000 to $14,000 per public school student while not giving a red cent (aside from specific programs) for our education. Here in the states we chasidish people are not usually treated to anythingmore than is available to the public in general. Stop being apologetic and start being proud. I am a proud chasidish father of proud chasidish children. I would not swap that ever. Never would I want to be like those I see at work every day!!! Their lives are shallow while our is full and beautiful.
      Why don’t yougo look up the recent studies as to which group of indentifiable people are the happiest in the world. It is us frum Jews. And for all of you who say you have a problem being frum because of the lack of education amongst us – I say one thing from experience. It is all a lie. Be frum and go get any education you wish. They are not mutually exclusive.
      I am sorry that I had to write as the apologetics around us may be making you think twice. Stand up and be proudly counted!!!

      • This is pure drivel. You said “here in the states we chassidish people are not usually treated to anything more than is available to the public in general”. Yes, sadly that is true. A life of welfare, begging, food stamps all at the expense of your neighbors is something you can have. However, it makes you a sad, pathetic, leach on society and makes you an embarrassment to the rest of us.

        There are PLENTY of us who have time to work in real jobs, learn all day, be involved in kiruv programs and the like and have perfectly fulfilling lives. *WE* are the ones who are being FORCED by the government to pay for you entitlement lifestyle. *WE* are the ones who are forced to pay your kids’ tuition.

        The worst part of this attitude is that you seem to think that living off the backs of your neighbors is a reasonable life “choice”. IT’S NOT. We are all sick of you and sick of having to pay higher taxes because of you. It is that simple. I am nauseated when I see men in their 20’s (perfectly capable of working) paying with food stamps. My grandparents would cry seeing how everything they worked was flushed down the toilet by this ignorant generation of leaches!

    15. It seems your heatred was so great that you did not even bother to absorb what I wrote. I do not take anything from the government nor do I avail myself of any of the available programs. I work hard for a living. I am proud in being a Chasidish person who also happens to be highly educated. I wear my religion proudly in the professional world and am greatly respected for that. That said, I totally understand when people choose, willingly, to stay in yeshiva, however long that takes. I am proud of them as well. I don’t care that some amongst us pay for food with food stamps. The government makes those available and we are entitled to utilize them just as the next person does.
      If all yeshiva students would leave yeashiva and join the workforce, they, as a group, would likely earn more than they do now and prhaps would not need any government assistance. But then, there would be no one left to learn Torah. Why don’t you go to Tennessee, Oklahome or Wyoming and see how many people are living off government assistance. They are allowed, we are not??
      Yes, you are an apologetic. I am proud and you are misrable. I would never have it another way.

    16. You seem to think that this money comes from some magical fairy that brings it from some fantasy land and gives it to people who don’t want to work. THAT is not reality. This money is being forcibly TAKEN from us by the government whether we can afford to spare it or not.

      In generations past, roshei yeshiva would “weed-out” (for lack of a better term) those who did not have a future as leaders. They would be TOLD to go out and WORK. They, in turn, would voluntarily put up the money for those who were being developed into our future leaders. THAT is honorable. THAT is how it was done by our parents and grandparents.

      Most, yes MOST of these bochurim have no interest in working. Why would they? It is much easier to live life getting free checks from your neighbors than it is to work.

      I am an exceptionally proud man. Proud of the successful Torah life I built for my family, and the quality, high-level education that my children received. I apologize for nothing.

      NYC has the highest per-capita rate of citizens on social assistance. It is disgraceful. There is a difference between being UNABLE to work, and choosing a life of entitlement. The latter is a disgrace!

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