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Eichler: Limud Torah Should be Recognized as an Academic Equivalent

ponMK (Yahadut Hatorah) Rabbi Yisrael Eichler presented a query to Minister of Industry & Trade (Bayit Yehudi) Naftali Bennett. He explained that Israel’s civil service does not recognize yeshiva study, and as a result, chareidim are barred from apply for many jobs. He explains they are told that since they lack a bagrut (matriculation) diploma and an academic education, they are not qualified to apply for civil service positions. Eichler feels that limud Torah should be credited as an equivalent for in most cases, the chareidim are indeed qualified for the public sector positions but lack the paperwork under the current requirements.

Eichler adds that chareidim are victims of discrimination in the workplace for their Torah study does not count as an academic degree, which is reflected by their lower salaries in the workplace. He question why in the Jewish state the nation does not recognize Torah study as an equivalent academic degree.

“It’s time to break the wall of silence from the heart of Yerushalayim. We must permit hundreds of thousands of chareidi residents to earn a livelihood in the public sector. Even during the period of the Turks and British there was not such a cruel threshold blocking Jewish workers in Jerusalem” Eichler concluded.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

15 Responses

  1. Learning Torah in a yeshiva or seminary should be treated the same as majoring in Jewish studies in a university. But if that was the case, Israeli would have to open up a large swath of jobs to people whom the established policy is to exclude from the mainstream economy. While requiring army service for most jobs does have a fairly effective discriminatory impact, if the government is to maintain its anti-Torah policies they need to avoid recognizing yeshiva students as being educated (and also have to avoid something similar to America’s anti-discrimination laws that ban requiring an academic credential that isn’t need a job). Eichler’s reference to the British and Turks is not relevant – the Brits and the Turks may not have liked Jews all that much, but had nothing in particular against Torah and no reason to try to persecute frum Jews any more than they persecuted other Jews (unlike the zionists, who have a long standing animosity directed against the Torah community).

  2. I agree, especially when we are learning Chasidus and Chasidishe Seforim on the Parsha.
    Even when we say Tikkun on Shevuos night, we should get points.

  3. One major problem with this is at, at the undergraduate level, you don’t only learn your major course of study. An undergraduate education is supposed to produce a well-rounded student. So, for example, an accounting undergraduate student will not only take accounting courses. They will also study English (in the US), history, arts, music, basic sciences and the like. All students have to take a common set of courses regardless of their major so that all graduates should have a common base of knowledge about the world.

    I don’t see the yeshivos doing anything remotely similar.

    The Wolf

  4. No employer cares about the guys that sit there all day without accomplishing anything. Matriculation in Gemara Makes sense only if the certificate is evidence of intelligence and achievement. Which it wouldn’t be unless it required standardized tests. I would LOVE to see standardized tests given to all yeshivos. Of course, chasidishe yeshivos would complain that the test doesn’t reflect time spent on the Chasidishe sforim, and Litvishe would say who cares about bekius or pashut pshat when we spend our time on Achroinishe lomdus.

    I have an idea- outsource the bechinos to Dirshu!

  5. WHY? Since an academic degree and limud hatorah are not equal when PURSUING an employment role.
    Even those who leave Yeshiva in US with a Clergyman BA can not access certain jobs or graduate school since there are voids in their education. Eichler, its time to face up to the facts. Have after yeshiva hrs or ben hazamanim courses to fill these voids.

  6. I don’t understand – when an employer hires, he looks to find the best employee. If the employee does not know how to spell, he will not be an asset rather a liability. Employers look for assets, not liabilities.

    I don’t understand the comparison.

    “We must permit hundreds of thousands of chareidi residents to earn a livelihood in the public sector”

    Isn’t everyone upset at Lipman for trying to enable them to work by offering an education?

    Sounds like we have a very confused group here.

  7. #3:

    Israel higher education based on the European system, not the American. Even for an undergraduate, here one only needs credits in one chosen field. They don’t need you to be well rounded; they simply need you to know your field thoroughly.

  8. When I went to Telshe Yeshiva Rav Gifter Z’TL used to say that one who does not go to learn secular studies is like he is over bittul torah! He would frown on those who would skip secular studies and think they are frummer than everyone and went off to learn in the bais hamedrish instead. In fact any Telzer reading this will recall the sign in the high school stating the very line above with Rav Gifter’s signature! He used to say that it is irrelevant if you will be a Rosh Yeshiva one day but you must be educated and know the ways of the world! He used to attend every high school graduation and speak with all pride! In my days (this was just 20 years ago) they had a formal graduation and celebrated this with pride. Why is it that all the major yeshivos in the USA such as Torah Vedas, Torah Temima, Chaim Berlin etc have secular studies even though not required? Because they are NORMAL. No one ever said they were doing something wrong!

  9. Its a simple issue. If a yeshiva grad has completed a balanced progarm of limud torah but has also acquired essential job skills in terms of reading, writing, math, science etc. than he/she definitely should be given consideration. If all they can do is provide an elegant exposition of “shor she’nagach shor” than obviously they are not qualified for public sector jobs which require certain skills. There are many public sector jobs in construction, health care, etc. which require little academic training and these yeshiva grads should be allowed to apply.

  10. ChaimShamayim : “I don’t understand – when an employer hires, he looks to find the best employee.” — actually, many employer hire on the basis of ethnicity, political beliefs, religion, looks, whether the potential employee looks like someone who “fits” in, and this happens even in the USA in spite of the anti-discrimination laws

    A Talmud: “When I went to Telshe ” — Telshe is not in Eretz Yisrael. A not insignificant number of Jews choose to live in Eretz Yisrael, dafka in ordre to learn Torah full time. This has been the pattern for centuries. They limit their secular activity to what is needed for support

    israelmbaum1: “Even in the USA” — No hiddush. America has a long tradition going back several centuries, and reflected in our anti-discrimination law, of focusing on your “education” (what you’ve learned) rather than on “schooling” (where you’ve learned it). When English barristers studies law in university and spent longs apprenticeships in the Inns of Court, American lawyers would read some law books, spend a short time working with a lawyer to learn how the system worked, and took a test (these days of ended, the lawyer’s guild now requires schooling for various nefarious reasons). Israel has good, but nefarious, reasons for ignoring what one learns in places other than government approved universities

  11. Well, if we think of college-Credits as an illusion, then you can make fun about it, but in fact these credits are counts of knowledge, and we must agree that all yeshivas provide loads of knowledge, and all yshivas lear talmud. Even in chasidisha yeshivas.

    There are many many successful people here in the US that learned in yeshiva and only went to school up to 6 grade and then just learned on the job.

    Not everyone needs to become a lawyer. all he is asking is that it should count at least as basic knowledge.

  12. 1) As someone above said, in Israeli universities you learn only those subjects relevant to your major. You can be a university graduate with an engineering degree and be a total ignoramus in every other field.

    2) There are many jobs in Israel, especially governmental ones, which are only open to people with a degree – but it doesn’t matter in which area. You can become the director of the Ministry of Finance with a degree in Chinese Studies, as long as you have a piece of paper in your hand. As such, there is no reason not to accept many years of yeshiva learning as equivalent to an academic degree.

  13. I think MK Eichler has a point – Limud HaTorah should not be treated as less than academic studies. That being said, what degree should it lead to, and what position should it qualify one for? Clearly not one of the general professions – a Baki b’Shas isn’t trained in accounting or law. It would, rather, be similar to (l’havdil) a degree in philosophy or the humanities. That being said, how much benefit would there be to such a degree, other than in government, where one of the criteria used by the Israeli government in determining salary is if one has a degree – even if it’s in a field that has nothing to do with one’s job.

    For what it’s worth, Israeli law DOES treat Smicha as equivalent to an undergraduate degree, so at least in part, the MK’s idea is nothing new.

    an Israeli Yid

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