An assembly took place on Wednesday in Jerusalem’s Ramada Hotel marking the start of the academic year for the students of Machon Lev (males) and Machon Tal (females) in a separate seating environment. There was a designated area for couples to sit together, Srugim reports.
Rabbonim addressed the opening event, headed by Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the dati leumi candidate for Jerusalem’s chief ashkenazi rabbi, followed by entertainment.
A number of days ahead of the event, Rabbis Eren Tamir, Yaakov Shimon and Chaggai London of Machon Tal released a p’sak prohibiting students from taking part in the students’ association event. The rabbonim explained they were asked if the event is the Ramada is permissible, and they ruled it is not since it is attended by men and women.
The matter was brought to Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, who was understood to permit the event but he explained that he was not going to interfere with the policy of the rabbonim of the machon, calling the event an internal matter.
The rabbonim further explain that Machon Tal, also known as the Women’s Institute of Engineering in Jerusalem was established to permit young women to obtain a higher secular education in a Torah atmosphere and attending a mixed social event was contrary to the hashkafa of the college. They add that a Torah lifestyle demands separate classes, and קל וחומר social events, which they point out applies in high schools, Sheirut Leumi and other settings, quoting Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook ZT”L
אין שום היתר ובוודאי יש למחות להתאמץ ולתקן.
The rabbonim of Machon Tal decided not to attend the event since they prohibited it. Notices for the event in the school were removed, but the event did take place and men and women attended, in the separate seating atmosphere as reported.
Srugim explains the organizers opted to host the event in the Ramada and not in the school simply because they recall a similar event two years earlier that was to be held in the school was canceled by the rabbonim for the same reason.
Machon Lev on the other hand issued a statement of a different flavor, with the institute’s director, Shai Gilboa commending organizers and the event.
It appears the words of the rabbonim did have an impact as 1,200 participants were expected but only several dozen turned out, resulting in a bit of protest among some in the dati leumi community over the ban since there was separate seating.
Students’ committee officials preferred not to comment on the events.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)