High Court Drama Surrounding Emanuel Beis Yaakov

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12:22PM IL: The Tuesday morning court proceedings surrounding the Emanuel Beis Yaakov was surrounded by tensions of the recent months, in which the sides have failed to reach agreement. Yoav Lalum has been villainized by the Ashkenazi chareidi community, with pashkavilim bearing his photo appearing in chareidi areas, labeled as a “traitor’ and worse.

In today’s hearing, High Court Justice Edmond Levy, who was lauded for his remarks just yesterday as he supported the right of chareidim to sit and study Torah and have the state subsidize the learning showed a different attitude today, one of contempt for Chinuch Atzmai and the rabbonim for having the chutzpa to ignore a High Court ruling.

Levy stated that a ruling of the nation’s highest court is not subject to anyone’s approval, or any halachic authority, and failure to comply with the court’s earlier rulings is indeed a serious matter.

In the session today the pressure was on the Slonimer Rebbe Shlita, who told the court he refuses to accept any compromise suggested, for there can be no compromise regarding the chinuch of the children. The court requested that Beis Yaakov Emanuel permit the Sephardi girls to enter the mainstream program for the next two weeks, the remainder of the school year, stipulating that by doing so the school in no way implies any acceptance regarding next year, but the Rebbe remained firm and stated he cannot accept such a compromise.

One parent whose child attends the Beis Yaakov is Mr. Yitzchak Green, who agreed to speak with the media. “We want to live our lives. We are not for or against them [the Sephardi girls]. How can we have two schools in one building? If one sends his children to Bnei Brak is this discrimination too? You want us to go to jail, we will go to jail. You want to kill us, kill us.

“This is our life that we toiled to build and no one will destroy it, not anyone. We will protect our values to the end and the honorable Edmond Levy or Dorit Beinish will not change this, not even the [retired High Court president] honorable Aaron Barak of the past.

There will be a protest of 500,000 people or not. It doesn’t matter. There is no power in the world to today that will compel us to compromise. This is the ultimate battle and we will not give in”.

Yehuda Laufer, a Jerusalem resident who grandchildren attend the Emanuel Beis Yaakov added “It is good that the High Court showed its true face, the number one enemy of religious and Torah life in the State of Israel… The court is the neighborhood bully. No one elected it or selected it. It is not a democratic body. At the end of the day, it is a leftist entity that continues to battle Torah and halacha life and it is good that we now all know exactly who we are dealing with.”

Emanuel Municipality official Yehuda Eichler added “We will uproot our homes in Emanuel to adhere to the word of our rabbonim. It is comes down to listening to our rabbonim of the court, we will adhere to the rabbonim. The Torah was given over 3,000 years ago and the court I don’t know exactly. What is certain that I will do exactly as the Slonimer Rebbe instructs me – it’s that simple. Despite living in Emanuel for 25 years, and my father was a rav, and I am well-entrenched in the community, my wife and I will leave and relocate. No one will compel us regarding the chinuch of our children.

Deputy Minister R’ Meir Porush told the media this battle targets the heart of chareidi Jewry, the chinuch of the children. He added that the entire matter of taking the dispute outside the camp was an error, and he remains hopeful that the honorable High Court will realize this, and to return it to the chareidi community to address, and not chas v’sholom to further fuel the fires of dispute.

“We all know there are disputes, some very serious, and there exists a chareidi community, religious community and secularists. That there is an internal problem is nothing new but to take it out in public is not going to lead to a solution and it will not add any honor to the chareidi community”.

Porush took great care to weigh each word, not in any way undermining the legitimacy and stature of the court, but added that even in the early days of the establishment of the state, Ben-Gurion understood the differences and agreed that each group must educate one’s children as one see fit.

Porush stresses that he wishes to remain in Eretz Yisrael, where his family has lived for generations, but please, “permit me to conduct my life” and “I hope this will end in an honorable way somehow”.

ISRAEL RADIO: Are they part of the state or not?

PORUSH: They are part of Am Yisrael and I think even a bit more than the children of the foreign workers. If not, you know what, let’s call them equal but I think even for the foreign workers in Tel Aviv and Eilat there are special schools to accommodate them so let’s at least be as kind to our children”. 

A recess was ordered to permit the sides to return to order, but that too did not help and another recess was called as the turmoil continued, with tempers flaring and the court becoming visibly impatient. Education Ministry officials spoke with parents during the recess, hoping to find a common ground. At one point a parent representative spoke to Justice Levy, explaining that Gedolei Torah Shlita will find an acceptable compromise, only serving to further anger the court since Levy already feels the chareidi community is simply in contempt, unwilling to adhere to the dictates of the nation’s highest court.

Finally, Justice Levy announced the session would adjourn and the court will announce its verdict soon. The tzibur began by shouting the entire posuk of Shema Yisrael, followed by Utzu Eitza as the justices left the courtroom. The tzibur then shouted “Hashem Hu Elok-im” and the justices simply left the chamber.

It is blatantly clear that the parents are indeed willing to go to jail, unwilling to compromise what they see is a cardinal issue for Beis Yaakov Emanuel and the entire Chinuch Atzmai system. The Slonimer Rebbe Shlita appears ready and willing to be the first to enter a jail cell chas v’sholom should this be the next step in the ongoing battle between Beis Yaakov Emanuel and Yoav Lalum.

Lalum was surrounded by security officials to prevent any physical confrontation between him, parents and others present in the courthouse.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


10 COMMENTS

  1. The Slonimer Rebbe Shlita is not a political animal like most of the haredi “askonim” who weigh every word carefully. The Slonimer Rebbe speaks simple words of Toras Emes. If the judges of the High Court want to promote ahavas Yisroel, they had better understand that they are not dealing here with some politico who will do whatever looks expedient.

  2. “The court requested that Beis Yaakov Emanuel permit the Sephardi girls to enter the mainstream program for the next two weeks” what i thought they want to force the non sphardie girls to join them not vise versa”? can YWN keep us clear on what the qustion is

  3. I just don’t get it, here in the USA we have separate school for the Sephardi and Ashkenazi students, they have many differences in the way they live according to Halocha, i.e. eating rice beans on Pesach etc. so why can’t it be understood in Israel that they need separate schools just like in the rest of the world.

    Next: who gives the right to the Israeli secular court system to advise the religious Jews as how to educate their children? the court is governed ONLY by those who could not care less about the Torah laws, and the community in Emanuel are Torah observers, the right thing would be to put this situation in the hands of our leading Gedolim and ad-hear to their Psak.

    I think what the Israeli government is trying to do here, is the following; they are trying to get their hands into the religious schooling system (boys and girls) and slowly sway them from the Torah way of life, as the government has done in the past, It’s scare but if the court wins on this one, they will continue to destroy all the religious schools in Israel, ( in their sneaky way) give them some time and the job will get done, the only choice will remain is to close ALL of the religious schools who are supported by the state of Israel, before they have a chance to Chas VeSholom bring down the rest of Klall Yisroel.

    In my opinion it might be a great idea to consider the idea of Home schooling, this way you know exactly where and what your child is up to. There is no other alternative to this horrible decree.

    We are in living in the days of the arrival of Moshiach and the Yatzer is doing what ever he can to destroy the small amount of Yiddishkite still left in the world, we have to be strong and Daven to Heshem, ONLY Hashem can and will help us greet Moshiach.

  4. Yoav Lallum does not need security officers.

    The people of Emanuel need protection – from this media fabrication and miscarriage of justice.

    Most of the Slonimer Hassidim have grandmothers who are Edut-HaMizrach – (Palestinian Jewish) women from Tiberias, where its Kollel was located since over 100 years ago unti the recent generation, when most of the community moved to Jerusalem. The yeshiva students married the local Palestinian Jewish women. So they are part Edut-HaMizrach, colloquially known as Sephardic.

    The Beis Yaakov Chasidi was founded in 2007 as a stricter alternative to the original Beis Yaakov.

    There are two other girls’ schools in Emanuel – theoriginal more lenient Beis Yaakov, the Chabad Lubavitch school founded in the late 1990’s, and the Beit Rachel and Leah, under the Shas-Mayan network of Sephardic schools, founded in 2007. This new Sephardic girls’ school attracted no media attention or lawsuits.

    The three boy’s schools were then and continue to be Chabad Lubavitch, Shas-Mayan Sephardic, and Chassidic.

    INVESTIGATION BY MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

    Shulamit Amichai, the head of the Ministry of Education in 2007, sent attorney Mordechai Bass to investigate the situation. His states, “The division was not ethnic, it was religious. I am convinced that there is no ethnic discrimination.” (See synopsis at bottom of page).

    30% of the girls attending Beis Yaakov Chasidi are Sephardic, not including those of blended heritage. 20% of the students in the original Beis Yaakov are Ashkenazi, many have blended heritage.

    The guiding principles of our community are its various philosophies, not heritage. The leaders of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi really did not know or care who was Sephardic, Ashkenazic, newly religious, religious for generations, until this issue hit the news and they had to answer this question.

    RAV SHIMON BA’ADANI FORBIDS USING SECULAR COURTS AND SECULAR MEDIA

    HaRav HaGaon Rav Ba’adani wrote a letter that was distributed to every family in Emanuel in 2007 forbidding the bringing of grievances to the secular media or courts, and that any grievance must be brought to a religious court. It is a widely held practice to air grievances with the local Rabbi before going to religious court.

    Rav Ba’adani is widely respected in the Haredi world. It is unlikely that anyone in the Beis Yaakov Chasidi or the original Beis Yaakov or Beit Rachel and Leah (the newly founded girls’ Sephardic School, unnoticed by the media or courts) or the Sephardic boys’ school or the Chassidic boys’ school would bring complaints to the secular media.

    COURT HEARING APRIL 29 2010

    The parents of the girls in the Beis Yaakov Chasidi who happen to be Sephardic petitioned to meet with the Supreme Court Judge Levi during the initial phases. He refused to meet with them.

    The very first time the judge met with the parents was on April 29 2010. Only half the parents were allowed into the court, as there were many spectators in the courtroom. But if these parents were subpoenaed, shouldn’t the court have made room for them?

    None of the parents were put on the stand or cross-examined
    .
    Judge Levi ordered representatives of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi to work out a compromise with the plaintiffs. That means that Yoav Lallum, was to be involved in the forming of the school’s rules.

    And since no “agreement” had been reached, unlikely when working with an anti-religious activist, on May 17 Judge Admon Levi ordered all the girls to return to school and all be in the same classes. He also ordered that the Sephardic and Ashkenazi girls will have two separate tracts for prayer and halacha class. The Beis Yaakov Chasidi will close, only the original Beis Yaakov will exist.

    But in the original Beis Yaakov, the girls have always prayed together, Sephardic liturgy. And there were not separate halacha classes for Sephardim and Ashkenazim, all the girls learned the entire spectrum of halacha. Ironically, the Supreme Court is making its own “separation” that the original Beis Yaakov and Chassidic Beis Yaakov never did.

    But more importantly – where does the Israeli Supreme Court base its right to alter nuances in school curriculum? How can Judge Levi decide that there will be separate tracts for Ashkenazi and Sephardic students in prayer and Jewish Law – a separation that this community itself does not recognize?

    It was stipulated in the court order that the parents could sign up their girls in any schools they wished, other than the Beis Yaakov Chasidi of Emanuel. The parents of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi then signed up their girls in the Beis Malka School in Bnei Brak.

    On Sunday morning May 30, the first day that the girls from Emanuel attended this school in Bnei Brak, a group of reporters came to Emanuel and followed the morning bus, and filmed the girls entering this school. That day the school informed the parents that the Ministry of Education declared that they are not allowed to accept the girls from Emanuel.

    OVERCROWDING IN RELIGIOUS ISRAELI SCHOOLS

    Some classes in the cities have as much as forty five, even forty eight girls. A teacher in Jerusalem told me, “It can be nearly the end of the year before I get to know all my students.” This puts enormous pressure on students to compete for a limited amount of space.

    High school is in some ways more important that seminary education in Israel, unlike the American model of college being of foremost importance. Living in smaller towns lessens the pressures of competing for places in high school without lowering standards of education, as the religious world is brimming with a surplus of teachers who themselves must move to smaller areas to secure employment.

    SOME MORE INFORMATION ABOUT EMANUEL

    Emanuel was a fairly easy target – deep in the Shomron, an unlikely place for many to visit and check the facts for themselves. Not a well-off community, with few resources for self-advocacy. Small enough that you are easily exposed to the great variety that exists within the Charedi world, and any place in which variety is supported fosters a healthy, moderate environment.

    If you like languages, you could improve your Hebrew, Arabic, French, Russian, Yiddish, English, Judeo-Yemenite, Moroccan, Persian, Bucharian, Tunisian.

    For religious choices you have the spiritual Sephardim saying their blessings with fervor, proud of their glorious past under Islam and their good relations with local Arabs. Or the Lubavitchers, steadfast in their mission to spread Chassidut and make sure you learned some Torah today. The modern orthodox balancing it all and their doorway into the professions; the proper and learned Lithuanians happy to answer any question on Jewish law – by answering with another question. The meditative Breslover Chassidim crying “father” in Yiddish in the middle of the night as they pray on the hillside; the Chassidim who migrated from Tiberias a generation ago – of a heritage part Russian and Old Yishuv Edut HaMizrach and their talent for teaching; the two Yemenite sects, one which favors kabala and mysticism, the other which cleaves to Maimonedean rationalism. You have the more open Sephardim and Ashkenazim – and blended – who flourish in the original Beis Yaakov or modern orthodox schools, the stricter Sephardim whose grandmothers wore purda with veiled faces. “Strict” and “lenient” are not ethnically delineated.

    Emanuel is a place where you are easily exposed to the great variety that exists within the Charedi world. If you like languages, you could improve your Hebrew, Arabic, French, Russian, Yiddish, English, Judeo-Yemenite, Moroccan, Persian, Bucharian, Tunisian.

    If we had hyphenated last names going back about three or four generations, revealing the many who have blended heritage, this whole Sephardic – Ashkenazi “divide” would fade away.

    Small towns like Emanuel are actually a very good place to live and get to know different types of people.

    THE BAIS YAAKOV SCHOOL SYSTEM

    The Beis Yaakov system was founded in 1917 in Cracow, Poland by Sarah Shneirer, and is “selective” according to level of religious observance and expectations of refined personal behavior.

    The first set of grades on the report card of the Beis Yaakov School in Emanuel concern personal character traits: prayer, attitude towards studies, attitude towards peers, respect of elders, respect of property, neatness and cleanliness, task completion, homework preparation, behavior during class, modesty. In each category is a line for teacher’s comments. This is a good chance for personal growth for a child.

    Rebbetzen Henya Liebermensh, late wife of Rav Nosson Liebermensh, told me, “my father used to cover the bottom half of my report card and look at the comments on my character traits. If they were good, he would praise me and hand back the report card with a smile.”

    We need schools that help the whole child and family grow. Beis Yaakov has high standards. You do not have to attend it if you do not want to.

    The vice principal of the Beis Yaakov Emanuel is a Sephardic woman. There are of course excellent Sephardic women teachers in the Beis Yaakov, and there are excellent Sephardic men teachers in the Chassidic boys’ school that my son’s attend.

    ATTORNEY MORDECHAI BASS’ EVALUATION OF THE BEIS YAAKOV EMANUEL CASE:

    A brief synopsis, original report in Hebrew is attached.

    Page 1

    Invitation to investigate

    “On January 28 2008 I was invited to evaluate the complaints of ethnic discrimination made against the Beis Yaakov Emanuel administration. I have thoroughly reviewed relevant material … and have met with administrators from the ministry of education, the chinuch atzmai (independent religious schools’ network, which Beis Yaakov is under), and I visited the two schools in question.”

    Page 2

    Evaluation of ethnicity

    “The percentage of Ashkenazi families in the original school is 23%, and in the new (Chasidi) school, 73%.”

    (Footnote at bottom: “Such figures are not totally accurate – firstly, the schools do not note the ethnicity of their students in the registration – and this is a good thing! Secondly – this figure was…partially based on the tenor of the family name, which can also be inaccurate.” )

    Were any families refused admission to the Beis Yaakov Chasidi, Emanuel?

    “All parents wanting to sign up their daughters to the new school, and were ready to accept upon themselves the school’s conditions, were accepted (lit. “not refused”). Since there was no rejection (of any applicants), where is the discrimination?”

    Page 5

    Description of Emanuel Community

    “A varied population dwells in Emanuel – Chassidic, Lithuanian, Sephardic, some families have been Haredi for generations, some for one generation, some are newly religious for a few years. In larger towns, this variety is expressed in a variety of schools. Until this year there was only one (Haredi) school in the town.” ( My note )

    Attorney Bass notes the tensions between the stricter, sheltered factions and the more open, lenient factions.

    Page 6

    Attorney Bass notes the founding of the Sephardic girls’ school in Emanuel, Beit Rachel and Leah, under the Mayan-Shas network, which at the time had only a small first grade. (My note )

    He notes the various options that the parents explored – having different tracts in the same building, or opening a new school. In the end, a new school was founded.

    Page 7

    “The two schools are administrated separately, with two different principals.”

    Physical separation between the two schools – fact or fiction?

    “…photographers claimed that the cloth that was placed on the (pre-existing) fence prevented the girls from seeing each other. This is not true. Only part of the fence was covered. The yard surrounds the school from four directions, and the girls (from both schools) are able to see and play with each other. The (media) portrayal of two completely separate sections of the school yard…is not true.”

    Page 8

    “Were the students in the two schools divided according to ethnicity?

    “Were the students in the two schools divided according to ethnicity? The plaintiffs claim yes (the top of this page exhibits the plaintiffs’ claim)….The original school has 107 Sephardic girls and 32 Ashkenazim. The percentage of Ashkenazim is thus 23%. The new (Chasidi) school has 58 Ashkenazi girls and 21 Sephardim. The percentage of Sephardim is thus 27%….I repeat that…anyone interested in registering their daughters in the new school and ready to accept the school’s way of life was not refused.

    “I spoke to the plaintiffs and asked for one instance of parents who asked to register their daughter and was refused and they had no such case.

    He goes on to discuss the legal technicalities of opening a new school, licensure and so forth.

    Page 11

    Again -physical separation between the two schools – fact or fiction?

    Attorney Bass reiterates that accusations of physical barriers between the two schools were exaggerated and that indeed there was free access between the girls of both schools. He notes that the new school occupies (the third floor) rooms which were unused. (The third floor had housed the high school, and was vacated in September 2004 when the high school got its own building.)

    (I laughed when I read paragraphs 4 and 5, which address the plaintiffs’ accusation that the times of school starting and recess were at different times. Attorney Bass found this to be untrue. Of course both schools begin at the same time – 8am. Of course the recesses are at the same time. Would it make sense to have recess at different times, with one school trying to study while the other half is making noise outside?)

    Paragraph 6 on page 11 addresses the plaintiffs’ accusation that the girls in each school were forbidden contact with each other. () Attorney Bass notes that there was no such ordinance issued by the school.

    Page 12

    More on the culture of Emanuel – Sheltering children

    Here, Attorney Bass sensitively notes the great variety that exists in the Haredi world, despite its outward uniform appearance in dress. He suggests that non-Haredim attempt to understand the mentality of sheltering from the outside world, and that the more strict and sheltered Haredim would understandably be wary of having their children have close contact with more lenient and worldly Haredim.

    Page 13, paragraph 22

    Was there ethnic discrimination in the Beis Yaakov Emanuel?

    “The division was not ethnic, it was religious. I am convinced that there is no ethnic discrimination.”

    Conclusion

    “When ethnic discrimination actually occurs, we must combat it with all our might. I express my sorrow about complaints like these – thrown in the air – that increase hatred among Israel, and are totally baseless.” ()

    Signed

    Attorney Mordechai Bass

    _________________________________-

    Synopsis of letter from Rachel Guveri, head of education, town council of Emanuel, to Emanuel’s mayor Ezra Gerashi

    December 2009

    As my duty as head of education, I check on the schools and kindergartens. I have visited the Beis Yaakov School five times this year.

    Concerning allegations of discrimination that have arisen:

    1. There is no separation wall in the school.
    2. There is one uniform dress code for the whole school.
    3. There are no separate recesses.
    4. The yard is shared; the girls (from both schools) play together.

    The students are happy with the situation.

    1. Registration – each family was given a choice at the beginning of the year which school to choose from – Chasidi or general.
    2. Prayer – each girl prays according to her home custom. In the first grade they receive a prayer book from the Sephard tradition.
    3. Girls learn the gamut of Jewish law, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi traditions, as a seamless whole.
    4. Both schools learn the same curriculum.
    5. The rules for both are the same.
    6. There are teachers who teach in both schools.

    I see that the girls are happy in these schools. (Additionally) the new Mayan-Shas (Beit Rachel and Leah) school has a nice atmosphere and the girls are happy.

    There are schools in Emanuel for all to choose from for their individual needs.

    The directive to unite the two Beis Yaakovs has opposition from parents in both schools.

    I recommend allowing (the Beis Yaakovs) to remain two separate tracts – Chasidi and general, this is the first preference.

    Rachel Guveri

  5. I just don’t understand the reluctance of the Ashkenazim to allow their children to go to school w/ the Sefardim. Here in the USA, yeah in NY there are two schools. But that’s an isolated case. Go to any other city – “out of town” – and the Ashkenazim and Sefardim are in the same class.

    I just don’t get it.

  6. I live in Emanuel

    To Lawman-30% of the girls attending Beis Yaakov Chasidi in Emanuel are Sephardic. This Chasidi school was founded as a stricter alternative to the original Beis Yaakov.

    It is not a Sephardi/Ashkenazi divide, it is phiosophical.

    Aksile – I have original court documents, including the Mordechai Bass report. See my blogspot:

    http://beisyaakovemanuel.blogspot.com/

    So far only the Bass report is posted.

    Write to me via my blogspot page and I will email you the documents that I have. They are not all yet posted on the webpage.

  7. The fact is that there is discrimination against Charedi Sephardim in Israel. I am not familiar with all the facts of this particular case, but we have only ourselves to blame for Yoav Lalum’s campaign……

  8. Lawman where does it say that? The critiera is television
    and in other schools even internet. The most anti saferdi is the liberal ashkenazi left.