It was a stormy session of the Knesset Education Committee on Wednesday, 17 Adar as it became evident that the Education Ministry funds the Reform Movement to the tune of hundreds of thousands of shekels annually. MK (Shas) Yaakov Margi chaired the session.
Margi opened the session stating “I turned to the Education Minister about this and the response I received is that the allegations are incorrect. However, I received information and turned to the Education Minister again and he wrote me that it was checked and there is no proof to substantiate the allegations”.
MK Moshe Gafne added “If the accusations are true and it appears this is the case, then we are facing a new trend. It appears during previous years; the Reform Movement took part in tenders that left other choice but to emerge the winner of those tenders. This is intentional towards taking control of the public school education curriculum, towards bringing the Reform values to the students and their parents.
“The reality is that in a number of years the curriculum will be that of the Reform, and this is not what the majority wants. We are not paying attention as the ministry’s content will become the opposite of what we are familiar with.
“I am familiar with the Education Ministry for many years, and based on the facts, a sophisticated system is in place to funnel large sums of money [to Reform Jewry]”.
MK (Machane Tzioni) Yael Cohen-Paran countered, explaining that this is exactly the education most of the students are seeking, adding “If a rav would walk in most of the students would run as you are trying to reach a community that is not a part of our education system”, she added, referring of course to state public schools.
MK (Yesh Atid) Elazar Stern had his turn to speak, explaining his hope “That the education system does not try to find favor with readers of Yated Neeman. If this were so, there would be no Yiddishkheit in the country. I cry for the hundreds of thousands of students that lost all connection to Yiddishkheit because of the Yiddishkheit being presented to them…I respect this but it is not good for them. The question is what are week looking for. Do we want Yiddishkheit to be a kippa and tzitzis or one will not be viewed as being Jewish?”
Stern then turned to Gafne, critical of his remarks, stating “If only we funded them with large sums of money, half of the sum given to other streams”, [in an obvious poke at chareidim].
MK (Shas) Michael Michaeli added “The Reform Movement according to their won polls are 8% of the nation. Most of the public school children are traditional. Has anyone polled to determine this? Is this the Yiddishkheit they are seeking? Rabbosai, our Yiddishkheit dates back 3,000 years. I am truly surprised that the Education Ministry is headed by a man with a kippa on his head and he gives them a forum. I think you, Mr. Chairman, must turn to the Education Minister. One could say it is another religion as it is not Yiddishkheit”.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)