Dozens of Girls Thrown Out Of Beit Shemesh School Without Rachmanus

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bsDozens of girls from the Mishkenos Daas School were expelled from the school building in Beit Shemesh as the Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Magistrate Court ruled they may not use the classrooms.

This occurred in Safot U’Tarbuot School in Beit Shemesh. It is a non religious school that can accommodate 500 students. At present there are only 144 students. Shortly before the school year began Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul gave four of the empty classrooms to the Mishkenos Daas School. A sheetrock partition was constructed to separate the frum and non-frum children. This elicited the ire of parents and community residents of the non-religious school, leading to the decision to ban the frum girls.

Some senior City Hall officials view the events as an anti-chareidi policy, nothing more, citing there are empty unused classrooms while the chareidi sector has nowhere for its children to attend school. There simply is not enough space they explain. The mayor and other members of the City Hall staff attended an urgent meeting on the matter on Tuesday night the eve of 8 Elul. Chareidi councilmen attended the meeting along with attorney Uri Kedar, who is representing City Hall in court on the matter. It was decided to erect a tent at the corner of Sorek and Micha Streets, not far from the school. That will become the temporary school for the girls, sending a clear message to the ministry, that the girls are compelled to learn in a tent while nearby classrooms remain unoccupied.

Chareidi Councilman Yeshayahu Ehrenreich who hold the city’s education portfolio, told Kikar Shabbos they will abide by the court’s ruling, which prevents them from using the classrooms until Thursday morning 9 Elul at 10AM. In Ehrenreich’s opinion, the court gives the appearance of acting against chareidim. “Today the children will learn in the streets since they do not have classrooms” he explained. He questions if the court would have acted in a similar fashion if the girls using the classrooms were not religious. “There is no way to explain the behavior” the councilman adds, calling the court’s ruling “political in nature”.

In his comments on the matter on Wednesday morning 8 Elul, Education Minister Shai Piron said “The ministry will not tolerate bullish behavior but will insist on dialogue and cooperation”.

The minister reiterated every child in Israel has the right to a proper education, but is not offering any solution for the girls who are not without a school. Minister Piron also called on police to use the full extent of the law against those who used violence to protest the events at the school.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


34 COMMENTS

  1. Such a stupid headline. What about the kids who had to come to the first day if school and see a Charedi partition wall that was put up without Rachmanus? Give us a break.

  2. I think this article fails to inform the reader as to whether the girls’ charedi school was public or private.

    If it was private then the mayor likely overstepped his authority… In that case, the school should ask to rent some space instead of just appropriating government property.

    And then ground rules need to be set up to prevent confrontations on campus — e.g., a live and let live policy for both sides

  3. I agree this headline is ridiculous. The school should have made sure its arrangement was legal and legitimate before the start of school. and i am confused, if this school was for non orthodox jews, why wasnt it a co ed school? and if it was then why would the charedim want to be there. ? making sensational headlines is just turning YWN into the Enquirer !!

  4. I just love the sinas chinam caused by these one sided articles.

    Not sure what’s worse, the sinah caused by these articles or seeing the pritzus of the parents and children at the local school.

    If you don’t know the facts then don’t talk.

  5. #2 — You clearly don’t live in Israel. The school system here is set up very differently then in the U.S., and is not divided simply into “public” and “private”. Basically there is a whole spectrum of schools ranging from those that are completely public (i.e. free to the parents) to those who are completely private and independent (such as some run by the Eidah Hachareidis who won’t take a penny of government money for any purpose) to a whole group of in between statuses. The school is question is a “recognized private school” that is funded by a combination of government money and parent tuition. The government IS responsible to provide classrooms for the school — there is no issue of “appropriating government property”. The legal wrangling is a struggle between the municipality (the “iriya”) and the National Ministry of Education, who each control different aspects of education. The Ministry of Education is claiming that the city did not follow proper procedure in determining this allocation. (The wall is a separate issue — it is not the reason the courts ruled they could not use the classrooms — the ruling was based on technical procedural complaints.)

    BTW none of the 144 students in the secular school live in the neighborhood (they bus in from Beit Shemesh), while the Chareidi school in question is a school of over 900 students who almost exclusively live in the immediate vicinity of this building, and have no adequate classroom space.

    There has been tremendous discrimination against the Chareidi community when it comes to building classrooms for years.

  6. My dear American citizens. As a resident of beit shemesh and knowing how the schools are run I would suggest you keep your opinions to yourselves. All you are doing is showing that you have no idea on what is going on here.

  7. There is no logical argument whatsoever and the issue completely blown out of proportion by the loosers of recent Mayoral elections.
    Empty classrooms belong to children without any and a partition protects both sides from negative influence and provocative behaviour but that’s exactly what the chilonim want to achieve.

  8. As a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, I can say that the situation in question is yet another example of Moshe Abutbul’s complete disregard of the needs of Beit Shemesh residents whom he does not view as his supporters. The Safot v’Tarbuyot school has had this building since it opened, at which time RBS A was supposed to be, and for a time was, a “mixed” neighborhood – with Chareidi, DL, and Chiloni residents. The neighborhood has changed over the past decade, and is now almost entirely Frum, with a majority being Chareidi and a substantial minority being DL (primarily Torani), with a few scattered Chiloni families remaining. As such, assigning the school building to Safot v’Tarbuyot made sense at the time it was set up – but now, no longer does.

    The question then becomes, what is the best way to deal with this situation? Logically, it would be to meet with the administration and parent body of Safot v’Tarbuyot to make alternate arrangements for them, after which the current building could easily be given to a Chareidi school. What would probably be agreeable would be to give Safot v’Tarbuyot a different building in a different location (“old” BS comes to mind). If done with proper planning, there would not be any fights – the Iriya has to build new school buildings anyway, and building a smaller, but still adequate, building for Safot v’Tarbuyot would give more bang for the buck by freeing up their much larger current building for use by another, larger, school.

    Instead of having meetings to discuss and agree to such a plan, the Iriya, literally days before the school year was supposed to start, came in to the Safot v’Tarbuyot building and confiscated a large section of it essentially by force. That is what the courts have ruled against – the lack of proper planning and procedures. This is, unfortunately, quite typical of the approach of Moshe Abutbul as Mayor – he seems to see his role as providing the goods for those who voted for him, and to heck with the rest of the residents. In a town that is split almost exactly 50/50 between supporters and opponents of the Mayor, this is a recipe for disaster – and for creating unnecessary Sinas Chinam.

    So – do the girls in Mishkinos Da’as deserve a proper school building? Absolutely! But the Iriya, and the Misrad haChinuch, also have obligations to the students at Safot v’Tarbuyot that need to be addressed PROPERLY before Mishkinos Da’as is moved into that particular building.

    an Israeli Yid

  9. 1) The building belongs to the City of Beit Shemesh. The council can decide to do whatever they want with it.
    2) The reason the classrooms could not be used is because the federal ministry decided that they will get involved and not approve the use of those rooms for that shcool. They don’t seem to mind the present conditions.
    3) There is nothing unusual about a partition. The school building in my neighborhood has two sheet-rock partitions as it is occupied by three different schools. It is not a tznius issue – it is practical. They are different schools for a reason. Everyone recognizes it. Nobody wants the kids getting mixed up – it’s just more of a headache for the staff.

  10. Agreed that the municipality or the govt or misrad Hawhatever needs to provide for the residents of each community. and that other school SHOULD be moved to the neighborhood in which it serves, BUT the politicians need to sort all this out…not bloggers, and not chareidim who think they should take matters into their own hands. If the govt is not providing what they need/want, then it might be time to turn the system into the US system where private money buys you what you need on your terms. Agreed, all citizens of israel should expect to be accomodated by the misrad hachinuch, but thats what the elected officials need to fight for.

  11. Ridiculous article & headlines.

    The MAYOR is a grenade ready to explode & shrapnel that is felt by everyone. Last year the fight was over the OROT school, this year another school. In America we make plans a year in advance for building permits, classroom expansions,

    With the right communication skills, schools can be shared and utilized by more than one schools. This has been done in Brooklyn – & both schools did well without a separation wall.

    Reputation of Bet Shemesh & for further Olin there decreases daily.. The place is a war zone.. & then u wonder where does the anti-Charedim rap coming from.

    Rechovot, Elad, Gilo, etc.. are still somewhat peaceful.

  12. Charliehall — The school building belongs to the government — no one is stealing anything. I can’t imagine any reasonable school system that would prefer to build new school buildings at taxpayer expense while leaving existing ones empty. The building in question is designed for 500+ students and is currently being used for less than 150. The classrooms that were “stolen” were EMPTY. I worked for many years in the NY city school system and classroom space was frequently redistributed to different schools according to population needs. In fact one of the proposed projects of City Councilman Ehrenreich is to develop a system to map out all the available classroom space throughout the city and all of the students in need of classrooms in order to better eliminate waste and make effective use of the resources available for education in the city. I thought that was a great idea.

    As a resident of Beit Shemesh I would be quite horrified if I heard the mayor was leaving tens of usable classrooms empty and at the same time building new school buildings. (It happens to be that there have been multiple new buildings put up in recent years as well — but not enough to keep up with the population growth.)

  13. This is such a silly story.

    Doing things the way they were done was playing right into the hands of the resentful irreligious left. Building that wall, in the middle of the night… really lacked any class.

    The rest of the details become irrelevant when you act like a bully and a thief.

    After the damage done has been removed, perhaps more mature adults can come and replace the buffoonish leadership we suffer from here and do things right.

  14. #3- There is no reason to have built a new school. There is no reason why the school can’t be shared. It is blatant discrimination. I find it interesting how the very same people who wanted the Orot Banot girls to be able to go to school in peace are spearheading this fight to keep Chareidi girls from going to school. Talk about hypocrisy!!!

    These girls live in the area and have the right to go to school in their neighborhood. The reason why there is a fight is because people have this paranoia that Chareidim want to take over Beit Shemesh.. Shame on them!

  15. To Mully & Beeds – well said.

    And to add to the problem, the still-not-completed RBS Gimmel doesn’t have any schools either. Or a shul. Or a Mikveh. Or even a grocery.

    Where will all these kids go to school?

  16. Dear Friends,

    It is a sad fact of life here in Israel that the local governments do everything in their power to destroy the Chereidi school system and make life difficult for the Chereidi children. As #7 wrote, and also #8.

    And the same thing is ocurring in Jerusalem in Ramot. Empty school buildings that our dear mayor refuses to give to the Chereidi people in the area, and the kids are learning in crowded living rooms in local apartments because the chlilonim in control cannot stand the fact that there are so many Chareidi children, Kein Yirbu. And speak just like Paroh in Mitzraim who said “pen yirbu”.

    And the same thing happened in our area many years ago when my children were little. There was a dati leuimi school which was two-thirds empty and all the girls were being bussed in from a different community. And our Beis Yaakov was so crowded they could hardly move.
    and after years of fighting the mayor finally gave us the two empty floors. And those very chtzpadika girls were yelling torments at our girls so we did build a dividing wall.

    And finally the parents of the dati girls became tired of havng their kids bussed, being the whole reason they were doing it was just to keep us out, and they decided to send their daughters to their local dati schools, and we got the whole building.

    And this is exactly what is going on in Beit Shemesh today, bussing in 140 girls in order not to give the school to the local kids.

    We are in a bitter galus.

  17. Tired of hearing it’s no ones business or we don’t understand.
    Politics is politics and planning is planning, get on board & work out problems that all kehillos can benefit.

  18. #10 -anIsraeliyid — you make some good points, but your facts are not all accurate. The iriya met numerous times with the administration of Safot v’Tarbuyot to try to work out a solution. This problem of the underutilized building has been around for years. They were offered a site in old Beit Shemesh (which BTW also has many underutilized school buildings) that they turned down simply because they said they had this building first so it was “theirs.” Only when weeks of “negotiations” led to no willingness to compromise was the decision made by the iriya to give the EMPTY part of the building to Mishkenos Daas. Safot v’Tarbuyot kept all the office and auditorium space as well as all the classrooms that they were using. It is hard to see how this can be described as “confiscating a large section by force”.

    I agree that the last minute construction of a wall was a bad PR move — but it is not really the main story here. (Such partition walls are common when a building is shared by a few schools, even when the demographics are not different, but given the current environment here in RBS it was not a good move.)

  19. (Continued) The school has 18 very large classrooms and 140 girls. It is big enough for everybody. As #17 wrote, there is no need to build another school.

    And the mayor is NOT ignoring the needs of the chiloni school children. They have a beautiful building and their needs are being taken of perfectly well.

    He just feels that the Chereidi children who live in the neighborhood also have rights to go to school, and that the building is big enough for both schools.

    Why do the chilonim object to this? Nothing to do with the wall, which was put up just because it’s a separate school and it’s normal to put up a wall between two separate schools. In my Chereid neighborhood, there is a building housing two equally Chereidi Talmud Torahs. and they put up a division just to keep order, and also so the kids from each school feel that they are in their own school.

    Also it has nothing to with planning in advance or asking the other side. Just like the chilonim forced reelections which was a busha for the State of Israel, that her courts of “justice” went along with something so not democratic, but were willing to do away with democracy hoping at the same time to do away with the Chareidim, it’s the same forces at work today.

    As I said, we are in a bitter galus.

  20. My rebbe use to say: “sometimes you have to be smart, not right”. This issue is about so much more than classrooms. Objectively, the chareidi side has very good and logic points. They might even be right that the chiloni school should move. But any one who has lived in RBS for more than 10 years and understands the history and dynamics of this town should be able to understand the greater picture. The non chareidi population was willing to give mayor abuttball a chance to lead the whole city. In the months following his election in October 2008, there was no resentment or “anti chareidi” tone in the local non chareidi papers or on the street. The population was split evenly into thirds, between chiloni, dati leumi, and chareidi. There was a hope that abuttball would represent the best interests of everyone. His true agenda became apparent in june 2009 when housing councilman moshe montag broke his word and lied about the agreed terms of settling rbs gimmel. It had been agreed prior to the city council vote that rbs gimmel would be split between the 3 populations in the city, as was the current demographic makeup. After the vote, montag and abuttball announced that the neighborhood would not be shared, but rather, in the name of democracy which they hold so dear, “market forces” would determine the future neighborhood makeup. While sounding fair, everyone knew exactly what this meant. Non chareidim, in search of an open, tolerant, diverse place to live would be scared off by well organized, chareidi political amutot that would sweep in to bid for huge tracts of projects. This is exactly what happened, and it was abuttballs plan all along. Acting in the name of solving the critical housing shortage plaguing the country, he dismissed his critics as being anti chareidi and against unity in the city. What he and montag really intended was to secure a chareidi voting majority, to eliminate future political threats. This was when resentment against abuttball and chareidim in general started surfacing. The non chareidim saw this fight for what it was- the future of a tolerant town, with all types of people, including chareidim. Abuttballs agenda continued to come to light. He appointed an extremist as the city spokesman(mattisyahu rosenzweig), who promptly announced “residents of beit shemesh have nothing to worry about. In ten years this city will be just like benei brak.” While city infrastructure crumbled, while drivers died and bled on the outdated roads, while classrooms and schools burst at the seams, while tensions exploded between Jews and chareidi dressed thugs, the mayor and his chareidi city councilmen focused on 2 issues: expanding ramat beit shemesh from five thousand families to forty thousand families, FAST, and organize 80% arnona discounts for whoever voted for them. Abuttball made the absurd claim in oct. 2013 during his re election bid that the key to the towns economic stability was “building more housing units in RBS gimmel, dalled, hey, etc. The national government gives us money to develop these neighborhoods, and some is left over for your neighborhood.” This is what we call “fuzzy math” from a chareidi politician whose math education ceased after fourth grade. This is the cities economic master plan? When these new neighborhoods need a mikva, schools and basic services, then where will the money come from? And the leftover money from the national government- that is not nearly enough to cover the basic things we need in RBS right now-school buildings with sheltered MAMADs, as opposed to the ocean of caravans that comprise so many schools here. The school shortage could have been minimized had the mayor made that his priority. Instead, he devoted his energy to securing an electoral majority, enraging and unifying the secular population around the country, and condemning all of us to ridicule and scorn. At least he is consistent: Bringing forty thousand new families to RBS will not make a dent in the national housing crises, but it will forever destroy whatever quality of life we have had until now. So to with this new crisis- the six classrooms he took by force are no workable permanent solution AT ALL to the enormity of the classroom shortage facing ONLY THAT SCHOOL!!!(900 students!). Any ideas how to get classrooms for all the other dozens of overcrowded schools? Does abuttball have ANY long term solutions to any of the real problems facing us? His track record indicates no. All he can do is scream “anti chareidi!” and drag us further deeper into trouble.

  21. #21 mully – There are a number of versions of “facts” out there. Per the principal of Safot v’Tarbuyot, she was called down to the Iriya only once this summer – a week before school began – to discuss the issue. She came and was kept waiting for over an hour as the Iriya reps were “busy with other meetings”, after which she finally walked out. So no, there were not necessarily numerous meetings – at least not recently.

    As to confiscating the “unused” portion of the building – I don’t know which classrooms were used or unused, but I can say that it most certainly seems that one very well used room was confiscated from Safot v’Tarbuyot – one of the bathrooms. The portion left for Safot v’Tarbuyot had only one bathroom, necessitating the male and female students share it.

    I don’t disagree that the building should, ultimately, go to a local school – what I disagree with is the (unfortunately, typical) high-handed way Moshe Abutbul delat with a sensitive situation. He acts as if he sees himself as the representative of “his” voters, and not the mayor of a closely-divided city where he barely eked out a miniscule majority. It’s this attitude toward others that causes things in Beit Shemesh to spiral, when a modicum of understanding could instead calm things down. Seizing half the building and building the wall was more than just a “bad PR move” – it was flat-out wrong, from both a tactical, and, more importantly, a moral perspective.

    an Israeli Yid

  22. #10 et al ,

    It’s hard to countenance that Mayor Aboutbul ,a former actor and Chozer B’tshuvah,has “complete disregard” for less religious pupils.

    Whether the partition was foolish (and rude) is immaterial.It is par for the course in Israel,
    and all the complainants are little more than sore losing still for last election

    Furthermore,this method of allotting school properties has always well nigh been acceptable ,
    ipso all the demagoguery against it is ex post facto

  23. Its ludicrous to assert that Aboutbul ,the sweetest of men, is/was “high handed” “extremist”

    Unfortunately,there have been dozens of “askanim”,” amutot”,politocs, that have been the strings to the detriment of (almost)all

    (This mode probably worked well enough back in the primitive ’80s,but..)

  24. There is an upside to all this. This will result in a lot more anti-Chareidim moving out of Beit Shemesh, as happened after each of the previous conflicts. And the Chareidi majority will get stronger. And by the next election almost undoubtedly it will no longer be a contest as the Chareidi candidate will be a shoe-in. And then even more anti-Chareidim will move in.

    We’ll wave goodbye as they said off.

  25. *sail (not said)

    And the “reputation” to Beit Shemesh from all these anti-Chareidi instigated conflicts by anti-religious (and anti-Chareidi) zealots is that virtually no non-Chareidim are moving in to Beit Shemesh. All the new residents as well as the vast majority of the natural population growth is an ever stronger Chareidi tide.

  26. BS”D

    Probably not so important (except to understand how propaganda works): the wall doesn’t look like sheetrock to me at all. Looks like one of those pre-fab, Styrofoam-between-metal-sheets, caravan-style walls that go up in half an hour. You don’t use vertical metal supports in sheetrock. Plus, look at the YW watermark and you see that the plastic shell covering the metal panel of the wall is smashed out of place. Calling the wall “sheetrock barrier” or whatever is just another emotional manipulation of those who are against Chareidim. Subtle and sweet, huh?

  27. The minute the war is over, they fight with each other. How awful. The three boys were killed. One Yeshiva boy dies mysteriously. Rosh Hashonah is upon us. Wake up people. Stop fighting. Be nice to one another. Be generous.
    Is it hopeless in Beit Shemesh?

  28. #25 About Time – Time to wake up and smell the coffee. Moshe Abutbul, regardless of his background, is as partisan a politician as I’ve ever seen. There have been other mayors of “mixed” cities that have done better – without getting into any other issues involving his tenure, Uri Lupolianski was never viewed as negatively by those who were not Chareidi as Moshe Abutbul is.

    And this goes way beyond foolish and rude – it goes into the territory of definitely violating proper process, and possibly entering illegality. Trying to throw in some Latin legal terms (which are not really being used properly) doesn’t change that fact. This is a situation that could have been settled with a minimum of ill-will if there had been some trust – but Moshe Abutbul has, time and again, shown that he’s not worthy of any trust. He’ll do whatever he can for his supporters, but forget about it if you’re not one of “Anash”.

    an Israeli Yid