Chinuch Atzmai’s Beis Yaakov HaTzafon Discriminates Against Americans

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classroom.jpgMany gedolim in the United States encourage newlyweds to make the move to learn in Yerushalayim and benefit from the kedusha the city has to offer. There are a growing number of Americans found in the capital, in areas including Ramat Eshkol, Maalot Daphne, Sanhedria and Sanhedria Murchevet.

A BRIEF EXPLANATION

For the purpose of this article, “Americans” refers to avreichim, yungerliet wishing to live in Yerushalayim in accordance to instructions of gedolei yisrael, with the understanding their way of life must reflect the lifestyle of the chareidi community of Eretz Yisrael at large, particularly that of Yerushalayim.

As is the case among all parents, Americans living in Yerushalayim seek out the best education for their children. This is not exclusive to Yerushalayim, and not to the chareidi population, but our story deals with a particular school in the chareidi community, the Beis Yaakov Tzafon, the primary school serving the neighborhoods listed above, a member of the Chinuch Atzmai educational network.

BACKGROUND

The story begins three years ago in the Sanhedria Murchevet Beis Yaakov North, headed by Principal Frieda Sokolovsky. For reasons that compel one to ponder, the children in first and second grades of American families have been targeted by Sokolovsky, who has blatantly implemented a discriminatory policy, segregating the American students along with a number of the weaker Sephardi girls, residents of the Shmuel HaNavi neighborhood.

SEGREGATION BEGINS

The segregation began a bit over two years ago, with the girls placed in their own classrooms, distanced from their Israeli counterparts. The move not only left parents wondering, but upset; as they yearn to have their children meet their Israeli peers and acclimate to their new home. Parents have also learned from rabbonim and professionals who are guiding them through their struggle that the segregation may have a profound negative impact on their children’s emotional development, cause for real concern.

RABBONIM SEEK TO MEDIATE A TRUCE

Despite heroic efforts by parents, their representatives, particularly Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz Shlita, one of the leading poskim and rabbonim of the American chareidi community in Eretz Yisrael, with Kollelim and talmidim worldwide, the principal remains steadfast in her refusal to mainstream the children, who she seems to view as “Americans”, exhibiting an air of disapproval for their way of life, which is difficult to understand since “their way of life” is in line with dictates of gedolim in Eretz Yisrael, whom they turn to for day-to-day guidance in all aspects of their lives and marriages.

Rav Berkowitz has been working tirelessly for the past two years, meeting with Mrs. Sokolovsky, Chinuch Atzmai officials, and rabbonim both in Israel and the United States, including some of the generation’s Gedolei HaTorah. Despite the willingness of parents to conform to any school regulations, they have come to the realization that Sokolovsky has turned a deaf ear to their pleas, as well as any and all attempts to bridge the gap. As a result, their children are simply being discarded by the school, viewed as ‘inferior’, destined to remain outside the circle of Yerushalayim’s Beis Yaakov Israeli chareidi community.

In one case, a world renowned rosh yeshiva was markedly pained upon hearing of the situation, unable to understand what would compel such a policy that targets innocent children. In one meeting with one of the Torah giants of the generation, instructions were given to Principal Sokolovsky to set up a committee, a vaad, to address the issues and reach a solution. This took place close to a month ago but as of today, this committee has yet to be established.

CHINUCH ATZMAI SHOWS LIMITED CONCERN

To date, the limited intervention by senior Chinuch Atzmai officials did not turn the situation around, with parents realizing that the school principal is deeply entrenched in the system for many decades, perhaps lending an air of legitimacy to her actions. That said, the parents and the rabbonim are quite aware that if the Chinuch Atzmai leadership wishes to bring an end to this unfortunate policy, it can do so in an instant. Seemingly, Chinuch Atzmai intervention until now may only have been cosmetic, perhaps to exhibit an air of concern while in actuality, they are unwilling to challenge their veteran principal or perhaps they are not bothered enough by the blatant discrimination against innocent children who are seeking to enter the Beis Yaakov world with all its demands and benefits.

THE EDUCATIONAL REALITIES & OPTIONS

For the sake of a comprehensive report on the matter, there are actually two other schools which fit the hashkafa of the girls involved, the Beis Yaakov of Ezras Torah [which is small in numbers, no longer a flourishing institute], and the Beis Yaakov of Beis Yisrael. While one may reasonably argue the parents may send the students to either of these schools and end the ongoing dispute, the parents, instructed by rabbonim, are not willing because this would set a precedent, one that chas v’sholom may lead to discrimination in other schools and what is now an isolated incident may become de facto policy of the Beis Yaakov system.  This the rabbonim explain would be disastrous, perhaps even resulting in yungerliet not moving to Eretz Yisrael or chas v’sholom some who have already done so deciding to leave.

AN INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

One person, who has been instrumental in fundraising for Chinuch Atzmai in North America and elsewhere for many years has an inside perspective of the situation. He attests to the fact that gedolei yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and North America are indeed involved, and the situation is perhaps even more volatile than it appears on the surface. In actuality, according to some, in addition to the stigma to students involved, it may result in a financial tsunami against Chinuch Atzmai, as givirim in the United States have already begun innocently inquiring, some phoning their contacts in various mosdos in Eretz Yisrael, asking why this is happening. They are beginning to question why their money is good enough while the “children of the American yungerliet” are deemed inferior, not worthy of sitting side-by-side with their Israeli counterparts, pointing out that as a community, one could say that not only are these yungerliet leading a Torahdik life, but many represent the ‘cream of the crop’ of the American chareidi community.

A TIME TO ACT

This year the avreichim came to the realization that something must be done. After consulting with educators, their rabbonim and other professionals, it was explained to them that a continuation of the current reality will result in significant emotional scaring to the children, who may actually begin feeling inferior and exhibit outward behavioral signs in line with such realities.

As a result of the dire situation, the rabbonim instructed the parents to take the children out of the school. This decision was made before Yom Kippur. It was decided to remove the children from the school and tutor them at home. It is imperative to point out that this act is not one of protest, but perhaps more accurately a decision in compliance with rabbonim who are guiding the actions of the parents. The rabbonim explained the situation is unacceptable, that it will harm the children, and as such, the children were removed from the school and remain in private home-schooling type programs at present.

NOTE

YWN Israel bureau has probed the incident in depth, seeking to elicit responses from parties involved, but from the onset it was agreed that names would not be publicized due to the nature of the problem and sensitivity of the issues at hand concerning parents, gedolim and others. It must be pointed out that YWN has verified the facts, met with parties involved, and spoken with representatives of both sides. The actual names and identities remain on file, but will not be released for publication.

THE SEGREGATION HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL

Whatever the outcome, the sad realities of the segregation have already claimed victims, first and foremost the innocent girls who want nothing more than to be accepted. They are without guilt, but rather the innocent victims, pure and lofty, but nonetheless the main victims.

The parents involved are also living the day-to-day stress; with their children no longer in an organized Beis Yaakov framework, having to provide home schooling, albeit organized groups, but nevertheless, not an opportune situation on the best of days.

While an exact number is not available, there are also a limited number of families who decided to pack it in, return to North America, leaving them with the bitter taste of the segregation instead of permitting them to raise their families in Yerushalayim.

There is also the added expense. Parents pay the book fees in schools and other nominal charges. There are no tuition costs as it is part of the Chinuch Atzmai system, but now, the costs of arranging the alternative schooling have indeed placed an additional financial burden on them.

NUMBERS AND LOGISTICS

The Beis Yaakov Tzafon is a flourishing institution and it has four parallel first grade classes alone. Sadly, rather than grouping the girls according to academic abilities and other educational-related criteria, one class has become the segregated class, with 39 girls [32 Americans and 7 Sephardim]. One parent explained the 7 Sephardi girls are grouped with the Americans because they come from the lower-income Shmuel HaNavi neighborhood, which carries its own stigma. (The issue of discrimination against Sephardim in Beis Yaakov is in its own right a subject for another story).

YWN has confirmed that prominent educators, gedolei Torah in both Eretz Yisrael and North America are involved, aware of every move, and it is important to stress the parents are not acting blindly, but following rabbinical advise as they try to carefully negotiate their way through this difficult process, always aware what is best for their children must remain atop of the list of priorities.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

YWN has made an effort to contact principal, Frieda Sokolovsky and Rabbi Tzvi Baumel of Chinuch Atzmai, the official who is handling the affair.

Principal Sokolovsky’s secretary informed me on Thursday morning following a number of calls that she (the principal) is unwilling to respond to my questions or meet, referring me to Rav Baumel, who she explained is handling the entire matter on behalf of the school and Chinuch Atzmai.

I spoke with Rav Baumel on Thursday morning, who told me “I finished meeting with the Israelis and I am meeting with the representatives of the Americans later today. I will respond following that meeting.”

Rav Baumel’s response will appear in subsequent articles on the matter, G-d willing in the early part of next week, or earlier if the situation permits.

YWN is also working to contact some of the yungerliet who have relocated to places outside of Eretz Yisrael in the hope of obtaining their testimony and statements.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


49 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely disgusting. Is this living a Torah life? Please DO address the sephardi discrimination in a later article, because while we are now hearing about anti-American sentiment, anti-Sephardi sentiment is almost a way of life.

  2. HOT TOPIC and typical ‘Israeli Charedei Bullies’.

    “are unwilling to challenge their veteran principal or perhaps they are not bothered enough by the blatant discrimination against innocent children who are seeking to enter the Beis Yaakov world with all its demands and benefits”. Principals have been challenged before so the answer is THEY ARE NOT BOTHERED.

    SIMPLE SOLUTION: The bottom line in every issue is power, kavod and $$$$$$$$. We are ready and able to mediate this problem, give us the tel # to start a calling campaign to Chinuch Atzmai in America and Israel, let them know our personal donations & pushkas are stopping as of today. We are not interested in hosting and hearing leaders of CA speak at our conventions (Agudah convention is coming up) and shuls until this wrong is righted.
    Kudos to Rav Brekowitz for his constant help and assistance to the bnei torah of the area.
    DO NOT SAY: Let the children go to the other Bais Yaakovs, leave Israel or be happy with home schooling that is not PROPER DERECH HATORAH. The bullying of American charedeim has to finally stop.

  3. What a shame! How can a school be so mean to little neshamos? Don’t they realize the consequences of their actions by stigmatizing innocent children? With the problems of today with children going off the derech, I on’t understand how they could be so self-righteous and elitist.

    I am most suprised that gedolim in E.Y. would let this go on for so long.

  4. “YWN Israel bureau has probed the incident in depth, seeking to elicit responses from parties involved, but from the onset it was agreed that names would not be publicized due to the nature of the problem and sensitivity of the issues at hand concerning parents, gedolim and others.”

    I’m sorry–I don’t understand. There are names published in the article above. Are they pseudonyms? Could you please clarify the condtradiction?

    Also, Why does YWN need to “probe the incident in depth” as if you were a regular main-stream media outlet? YWN is a wonderful source of news in a kosher way,,, this doesn’t seem to be in line with the derech that most of your readers I assume are looking for. Please, someone tell me if I am misunderstanding something.

  5. She’s obviously not following the dictates of the Gedolim

    Who says that, from reading this article it seems as if SHE IS OBVIOUSLY FOLLOWING THE DICTATES OF THE GEDOLIM or R. Baumel would have given her the pink slip.

  6. Kol HaKovod to YWN for covering this developing story. Taking the girls out of school is NOT the solution. Why is the principal not being replaced?!

  7. This world is run mida k’neged mida. If some American charedi schools exclude baalei t’shuvah, then it is entirely expected that American charedim will be excluded in EY.

  8. To paraprase a famous statement:
    First they discriminated against the sephardim and we said nothing.
    Now they disiminate against US and who is there left to protest.

    What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

  9. My neice (sefardi) in Israel was told one day by her ashkenazi best friend that she could no longer be her friend – as per her parents demands – since she is sefardi. My neice who was validictorian of her class, a metzoynes is every imaginable way, told her without missing a beat, “if this is the type of family you come from, I don’t want to be your friend!”. Many segments in Israeli soceity as a whole is so racist against anyone who is not in their click – even if they are better than them. It is disgusting and I have to laugh when I think of all these frauds who sit on the floor weeping for churban habayis on tisha bav. One of the top-three gedolei hador in Israel has a daugther who is a priniciple as well, and with total disregard for her father’s wishes, does not accept sefardim – period. They are frauds, period. Everyone should post their disgust with the system here on Yeshiva World as I’m sure everyone in Chinuch Azmai is listening !!!!! This is a rare moment where we can actually make a difference. Nothing short of Mrs. Sokolovsky’s dismissal should be accepted! Let’s set a true precedent once and for all !!!!

  10. OLD OLD NEWS, BEEN GOING ON FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS.
    The reason that this is NEW NEWS, is the proliferation of Americans who have come on aliyah/learning in Israel has increased by hundreds, and the problem has intensified.
    ALSO, if Israeli yeshivos and charities are waiting for American bucks for survival, American expect and deserve (derech hatorah) equality. The protest has started with kids learning at home, the next front should begin – no bucks. (or bring a lawsuit through btzsalem)

  11. “The issue of discrimination against Sephardim in Beis Yaakov is in its own right a subject for another story.” I have been screaming about this issue since the inception of this website. Let’s talk about it now!!! Why are sefaradim discriminated against? How are frum jews supposed to feel like one community when the dividing lines are thick and visible? Why are we so surprised that Porsuh lost the race? Why are we surprised when the non-frum in Israel are skeptical of the frum community? Why is Mashiach not here yet? Because of garbage like this. Let me tell you something. People have gripes about Klal Yisrael’s approach to psak from the Gedolim, and their lack of reverence and adherence to their word. CAN YOU NOW UNDERSTAND WHY? Because of garbage like this. The Gedolim can cancel concerts but not deal swiftly with a public display of Sinat Chinam??? This is why people question the validity of some of these “Kol Koeries”. Who really knows whats authentic and whats coming from the Gedolim? I am so disgusted by this, that I will not give a penny to Chinuch Atzmai until this is resolved. Makes me sick. I will be upset the rest of the day. Thanks YWN for tracking this and keep us posted. Hopefully there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

  12. I think this story clearly illustrates the hashkafic gap between Israeli and American Haredim. Unfortunately Israeli Haredim tend to be much more extreme in their views.( I’ve never heard of cases of violence(stone throwing etc) involving American Haredim).
    Due to these haskafic and cultural differences the Israelis do not want their kids to be negatively influenced by their “enlighted” American brethren.
    I have also heard of several cases of American Bocherim being thrown out of Israeli Yeshivos for playing basketball during the afternoon recess – sport and fitness are viewed as tumah . This also highlights the divide.

    What I can’t figure out is why anybody would want to send their kids to an institution that prescribes to this haskafa and seemingly educates in its light.

  13. I have a big problem with the way you have reported this story.
    Whilst the attitude of the school does seem to be wholly unreasonable i think it is unfair to publish the article without at least hearing the school’s point of view.
    You say that you are still waiting for Rabbi Baumel’s response. Perhaps you should have waited for this response before breaking this story.

    P.S. Are the American parents upset because their girls have been segregated from the Israeli kids or because they have been lumped together with the ‘poor’ sephardi kids? Just wondering!!

  14. Let’s first point out that there’s an old problem in all the bais yaakov elementary schools in yerushalayim where most of the principals are old time israeli women; age atleast 70 years old= with an old time strong mentality.
    I teach in the schools and I’m witness. I will not say that chinuch atzmai is to blaim because they are also so pressured from rabbanim that there’s nothing they can do alone. I will say though that although many american families have learnt ; some the hard way, that to live here means to change and live here, to adjust to a new life and to integrate the children completely. THese children; where the parents change their lifestyles and stop dreaming of america, end up having healthy happy and well accepted children.
    I returned from school ten minutes ago and this is the first email I’m reading and I feel I must respond.The reason why I came home so late today is because I’ve been dealing with american home students where the parents dreamed of living in eretz yisroel but couldn’t allow themselves to give up either their non religious connections in some ways or their american shopping dreams. Where this created the kind of girl that I had to speak to today. She knows noone will understand her so she can use the most unrefined words ever that her mother uses when she’s mad. She doesn’t understand why the school system can’t be like the one in america… etc. etc. THere is a very serious problem with many of the american families and they have to realize that. I hate saying it but some maalot dafna families or ramat eshkol families have the behavior that no bais yaakov even in boro park would accept. Eretz yisroel doesn’t make you into a better person.You’ve got to become even better when you live here. While I believe I know the type of principal this one is; I spoke to her several times about different issues. I have to say that there’s a serious problem with many of the american homes in the society and something has to change. The israeli school system needs a huge yeshua too and that is why I’m working overtime. I have some solutions that some are B”H begining to hear. But I still say, the issue is not that simple and I do not think that the word segregation etc. should be a term used here. There are different levels to yiddishkeit and each person as much as they’d want to be in the highest , they’ve got to be honest as to what they can handle and who will want to handle them. I will also stress that if the rabbanim would be able for once to sit down together and discuss matters like these and the fact that the principals are old women that only remember the 50’s-70’s as the good years , that must change and a lot will change after that. I also don’t think that blaming chinuch atzmai is a complete conspiracy here since if anyone truly knows what goes on there, knows that they do a lot especially for olim and those that noone cares about and everything they do, goes and comes from the gedolim. I can’t imagine why the word chinuch atzmai has to be mentioned so many times in an article if you clearly see that the principal is the cause of it. I think chinuch atzmai does a huge amount especially for the smaller places and it would be right to direct the complaint in a matter and way that will be objective and with sweeter and more acceptable terms than these… This article really degrades the chareidi community for reasons that the victims might probably be able to solve alone.

  15. I think that what it all boils down to is plain, simple JEALOUSY and ARROGANCE. (kina and kavod). I spent my seminary years (2) as the only American amongst Israelis… and the underlying current felt was exactly that. Although I did develop lasting relationships with some of the girls, it was these attitudes on the part of the Israelis that resulted in my choosing to live in chutz la’aretz and not raise my children as Israeils. After being back for 25 years, in retrospect, I thank Hashem that I made the right decision.

  16. Miriam,

    You bring up some interesting points. However, the fact is that despite these galring differences, the way to deal with them IS NOT SEGREGATION. They should fire this woman and the Gedolim and Chinuch Atzmai folks should be dealing with this quickly. These girls are being scarred and they are nothing but kids. Kids should not be exposed to this garbage and do not know how to understand the meaning of this and it has horrible consequences. THIS SCHOOL SHOULD BE ASHAMED. THE ISRAELI PARENTS SHOLD ALSO BE SCREMAING ABOUT THIS. THEY DONT MIND GETTING MONEY FROM AMERCIANS, JUST DONT SIT THEM IN THE SAME CLASSROOM AS THEIR KIDS. I CANT EVEN EAT, I AM SO DISGUSTED.

  17. Miriam,

    Sorry I don’t by it. Please read the initial article who the victim families are. As there are problems in all segments of society this is not an American or Sefardi problem…Please note that the fallout rate for Americans in Israel is higher than the rate for the broader range of the population is BECAUSE they are not properly absorbed into the broader Israeli society ie This Chinuch Atzmoi school

  18. “that to live here means to change and live here, to adjust to a new life and to integrate the children completely”.
    —You are demanding a BRAIN TRANSPLANT, you can not remove the fresh prespective, passion for life, tolerance and respect for the underdog that Americans have absorbed when growing up in America or children of Americans. Israeli charedeim are able to absorb charedeim from England, Belgium, and Switzerlan, since the charedei atmosphere in Israel is European, an insular, self-imposed, walled way of hashkafa. The American charedim will never be able to WALK THE WALK OR TALK THE TALK, we are not talking about shopping, materialism, language that miriamlu is fighting with her students. American charedeim are not ROBOTS……. (BTW this if from personal, friend & family experiences).
    The bais yakov system in Bayit Vegan never had these problems, try to figure this out.. (normal, tolerant community = less kanaim).
    Do any of you see the connection of how Rav Bulman zt”l, the Bostoner Rebbe, Rav Asher Weiss and others (all with touches of American upbringing) have connected with a greater klal yisroel through ahavas hashem and ahavas hatorah.

  19. So, Bizrizut, again… Every American that reads this needs to ask themselves if they let their kids play with the children of Baalei tshuvah, or children that are from more modern homes etc, or if their schools attempt to discourage children of Baalei t’shuvah from attending even when those parents have signed onto whatever school policies might exist re videos etc.

    Unless they are mamash naki from such discrimination, they have no taaneh.

  20. to mariamlu

    although there are plenty of americans that come to isreal for a one or two year “honeymoon” you are obviolsly unaware of the facts. the yungaliet that send to the school are mosar nefesh for torah and are very very “chushev” yungalite. they unclude roshie kollelim magiday shuirim and rabbanim just because you may be dealing with problamatic american families (and beleive me there are enough of isrealy ones in the school) it is an outright injustise to the families involved

  21. Rabosai,

    I am very pained by this story. It opens wounds that I suffered as a buchar in Yeshiva in Yerushalayim in the 80’s. Anyone who has learned in Eretz Yisrael for at least two years knows that Israel is not the USA and that most Israelis – Dati or Frei – are not at all like Frum or Frei American Jews. I can only say Dan L’Chof Zchus. I am more worried by the physical scarring of children growing up in Yerushalayim in NYC. Yes, walking on Shimon HaTzaddik I had eggs thrown at me by frei neighbors in Arzei Bira, I had potato chunks thrown at me by cars driving by Motzai Shabbos, I had water thrown at me by Sadigura Yeshiva pranksters, I was called a sheigetz by little Yerushalmi kids (no hasidishe payos???)– get the picture. Hey, here in NYC I have beer bottles, coins and things thrown at me by passing cars and countless verbal assualts ! I fear these are the things that leave scars. Cultural differences will always exist, but I almost always was treated warmly and felt tremendous achdus with all the different Yerushalmi Yidden I met. I am mispallel that Roshei Yeshiva will solve the Chinuch issues. I just hope that derech eretz prevails. BE’H

    Mickey

  22. mairaimlu you wrote “This article really degrades the chareidi community for reasons that the victims might probably be able to solve alone” maybe becuase you are working overtime you failed to read the article the families said they are willing to conform to any demands the school may have

  23. Michoel, I disagree.

    I’m not a psychologist, but his is my opinion.

    If a kid comes from an earnest G-d fearing home that happens to be Modern or whatever label you want to assign, I don’t see the problem.

    Also, the individual decision of a parent cannot be compared to the “global” decision of a school.

    But, besides, if the story is as portrayed it is a chutzpah rather incomparable to your example: you’re talking about taking the best American Chareidim (who might even teach you a thing or two about exercise and that ball-playing is healthy and has nothing to do with organized sports) and removing them from their Israeli peers (who may or may not be as good as the Americans). Is that really what you want? That doesn’t serve the real chinuch interests of either group.

    I also wonder why you’d want to send your kid to an Israeli school in the first place, but that’s just me.

  24. the sfardim went to court when chinuch atzmia treid to descrimate against them and won i give you guys a lot of credit that after two years you are still acting in a peacful maner this just shows that we must be dealing with families that have strong values

    dont give up this must come to a stop.

  25. Shalom HaKatan,
    I do not understand your first point. You write “I don’t see the problem”. You don’t see the problem with keeping them out or letting them in? The individual decision of the parent to object to prejudice can DEFINITELY be compared to individual decision of the parent of behave with prejudice. You write that the American’s might even teach the Israelis a thing or two. That is exactly what the Israelis are worried about. They hold that the “thing or two” that would be learned is goyish nonsense. And why are they not entitled to their opinion? The idea that I should not give money to a school system that would not accept my kids is just silly.

  26. There are obviously some points that people didn’t understand in my comment:
    Bubbyscrib:I will clarify that even many chashuv yungerleit that come to eretz yisroel for torah; especially them often will have daughters that will not be ready to accept the israeli school system. I’m imagining most of these chashuv men have wives and who are they? are they changing too to prove to their daughters what they should live up to? or are they just saying: “I grew up in a different place and I had these rules, and you’re growing up here so…” also, many of my students are fantastic girls from american families, where they integrated completely without excuse and they succeeded and unfortunately some students also with chasuv fathers, roshe kollalim etc. that are problematic. Don’t put words into my mouth; none of my students come from problematic homes. Some of them might be coming from homes that just haven’t changed and adjusted enough to eretz yisroel.
    Nishtgeshtoigen: I believe that this principal is wrong and I can probably add a few more to the list. Not only for this behavior but for a lot more than that. I think the biggest day in israeli chinuch will be if they begin to tap into the general american Bais yaakov system; as to why they’re more successful. But instead of me moaning about this issue, I still teach there and try to make a difference in my own way. I make my children adjust, offer services to their schools and make sure they really feel like I understand their way of life. But I will still say that we’re talking about one school right now. And you’re telling me to look who the families are; enough with all the bluff. Because the fathers might be chashuv doesn’t mean the mother is or vice versa. Or because the grandparents might be chashuv and then again, maybe it is a true situation of prejudiceness that might be very possible by some closeminded principals that has to be settled.
    Bizrizut: You bring up an excellent and very true point about kids. Class distinction has been for many years an unfortunate problem in frum society.
    Children can always hopefully be molded and taught. Like one of the rabbanim said: If Rivka imeinu would be living in this age she wouldn’t have been in a school. But there’s one line of yours that kills your credibility and that is about sending money to eretz yisroel. When one does chessed, he shouldn’t think why , how and whom; if hashem will start dissecting how much we deserve from him we’d probably be so poor. Tzedaka for eretz yisroel will always be a mitzva. And all these issues just shows how this world is in galus especially eretz yisroel and how for many of us : Eretz Yisroel Niknos Biyesurim. You’ve also mentioned about the division between ashkenazim and sefardim: while I have great friends that are sefardi and students that I love that are also and colleagues. The problem with the division begins with the idea of forcing to mix them. THey are both so beautiful in their own way but are just different mentalities completely. The only way for them to come together are to make schools that are sephardi and ashkenazi. In the begining of the year I’ve visited a few fully sefardi schools. There are no words as to the finesse, inner beauty and roshem these places left on me. WHile in the ashkenazi schools they feel inferior , try to become ashkenazi which makes them lose their uniqueness and other issues. Look at the sefardi schools in brooklyn, they too are so successful. Because in isreal there are such stigma. For that reason alone the best derech will be to divide it and then the real beauty will come out. Together, there will always be a lower and upper class. I wish that could change of course. But if it hasn’t changed until now, then separating them will be the only solution.

  27. Yes. This is what a respected yeshiva system does to our own people.
    This is something that even our enemies do not do to us.
    When was the last time a terrorist said Sephardaim to the right, Israelis to the left and Americans to the middle?
    Did we forget we are one nation?
    It scares me to think what the consequences might be if we continue down this path.
    Did we forget the story of Rabbi Akiva’s talmidim. Let me tell you, what they did was minute compared to this.
    Hashem help us.

  28. Miriam,

    It is in your words that I see the problems with the system. Frum Israelis are so closed minded in their approach that when they are mixed with Sefaradim they have no idea as to what to do. I am a sefaradi person and I grew up in Ashkenazi yeshivas. My yeshivas encouraged me to be true to my ancestors and my heritage. No, I did not go to Modern schools. In Israel, its unnacceptable to be different. You mention “Eretz Yisroel Niknos Biyesurim” that is the biggest krumkeit I have ever heard. That does not mean that we as Jews are supposed to create these issues and then throw our hands up in the air and say “This is Hashem’s will” I will let Hashem worry about how we are Nikne Eretz Yisrael. BUT NOT THROUGH HORRIBLE ACTS WHICH GO AGAINST THE TORAH’S HASHKAFA!!! You also like to point out how my credibility by mentioning tzedaka. Um…. It is absolutely my right, no…. wait a second, my obligation to dissect who I am giving my tzedaka to. If there are two people who need money and I know one will use it for food, and another will use it for alcohol, who should I give it to??? Well, if I am suporting an institution which promotes Limud Hatorah, should I give it to one that DISCRIMINATES AND USES HATEFUL DIVISIONS AMONGST US, or should I give it to an institution that does its best to promoted Ahava Veachva? Finally, I do not agree whatsoever with the idea that the divisions between sefaradim and ashkenazim begin with forcing them to mix. You obviously come from the other angle and have absolutely no idea about the hate and venom this has caused. You are very well meaning, I am sure, but you cant begin to understand the issues you have until you are in the other person’s shoes. Its sickening that the leaders of our generation have not done enough to change this mentality. I STILL CANT EAT, THIS WHOLE DISCUSSION MAKES ME SICK TO MY STOMACH.

  29. Bizrizut:

    I’m see you might want to change the world like I would probably too. But I have long since learned that instead of changing the world I adjust to what there is for me. ANd yes, sometimes the reality hurts; knowing that things are so dividing is extremely saddening. But that is the fact and like I’ve mentioned “I wish that could change of course” you know well that I meant; that the system shouldn’t be divided. But like many other realities in eretz yisroel. We know one thing; our adjustments here are hard for these reasons and realizations and it pains and that is part of the “Eretz Yisroel Niknos Biyesurim”.

  30. SORRY, CANT ACCEPT THAT ANSWER. ITS UNFORGIVABLE, UNNECESSARY, INEXCSUABLE AND UNNACCEPTABLE. By living in such an environment and giving money to such institutions, you allow it to continue. I am saddened that people accept “the realities in eretz yisroel”. If rav Shragga Mendel would have accpeted the “realities” of AMERICA in the early 1900s then American Jewry would have been lost. BUT THAT REALITY WAS NOT A CHOICE!! BECAUSE AS JEWS WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT TORAH! THEREFORE HE HAD TO BEGIN A YESHIVA AND MADE SURE IT THRIVED. WE OWE HIM GRATITUDE BEYOND MEASURE. SO UNTIL WE ACCEPT THE FACT THAT WE CANNOT LIVE AND SURVIVE AS JEWS WITH THIS SINAT CHINAM, WE ARE DOOMED. ONCE WE DO THAT, WE CAN MOVE FORWARD. THE ATTITUDE OF ACCEPTING IT AS IT IS, IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. WHERE ARE THE GEDOLIM CRYING ABOUT THIS?? WHY IS A MIXED CONCERT SO IMPORTANT TO ILLICIT KOL KOREIS BUT THIS IS NOT??? PLEASE EXPLAIN IT TO ME MIRIAM?? FACT IS, THIS IS NOT HIGH ON THE AGENDA OF OUR LEADERS AND IT MUST BE!!!! ITS INEXCUSIBLE!! IT LOOKS LIKE I WILL BE EATING ALOT OF TUMS TODAY.

  31. As someone said before, it must be midah keneged midah.
    Think of that next time you say something demeaning about someone of another race or nationality. (There are idn of all races and nationalities too, by the way).
    I am sad for these children. Being a second class citizen is no way to live.

  32. Bizrizut:
    You do have a strong point… It bothers me too. It’s a question that I’ve been waiting to be answered for a while…
    The gedolim in eretz yisroel; each being really a tzaddik. But being soooo divided. So not agreeable. So contradicting. It confuses us small people sometimes. If the gedolim would realize all the problems I’ve mentioned before and tried to somehow mend it, things and the “achdus” would’ve been very different. BUt unfortunately, if you look at the cause of this divisiveness. Each gadol is affiliated with a political party in the government and this political affiliation sometimes really rules the l’sheim shamayim. They get carried away with their psakim. They disagree and small people like us get affected by it. For example: If politics would’ve been cut out of the elections last week in yerushalayim. And the gedolim would’ve sincerely focused solely on Kedushas Yerushalayim no matter what reason they may have had before for going against a party. Then the outcome would’ve been different. This problem is the root and the cause of it all unfortunately and more than anything else is the root of the problem and the root to repairing it. Let’s hope that the gedolim will once, soon, be able to get together for the true sake of klall yisroel and repair systems and drachim in our society. If they can repair the division of ashkenazim and sefardim; then that will be great. If they can repair the injust served to the americans; which I think they definitely can- so let it be. Why when Rav ELiashiv doesn’t allow lakewood to open up a school in the begining of the year, they just don’t open up. And in Eretz Yisroel as much as the rabbanim beg to take the girls in , noone blinks. School goes on as if noone ever said anything. We must therefor question, why people have lost their trust in daas torah? Perhaps, once they feel that motives are political and spiritual then they don’t trust.. It’s sad… I will say though that the gedolim are huge, way bigger than any one of us. But it’s sad the way it plays itself us; it’s sad for us people.

  33. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.Including The yeshiva world news. The article was written with a terrible slant and I know as I will soon explain. The comments are all slanderous and misinformed. My experience has always been when there is machlokes there is always the urge to believe one side and take the side of the perceived underdog. Please read the piece that the Chazon Ish has on that in Emunah and Bitachon.
    So what is it that i know . This Mrs Sokolovsky that you have painted as a bigot actually always has a house full of Americans. She has hosted Seminary girls and yeshiva boys away fron home with love and understanding . I actually know some girls who traveled by bus to do their homework in her home. Sound a little different already???? I have met her in the U.S. a number of times . I remember once when she commented on Kol Hakavod to the Americans who leave the relatively easier lifestyle to move to erets yisroel . And She wasnt on yeshiva world when she said it . Does it sound a little different yet?
    I do know some of the issues but I am not interested in spending the whole night explaining them to everyone. There is a real problem of cultural gap . No one denies that th eyunga leit in Israel are Benei Torah .She doesn’t deny that at all . To constantly harp on the point that the americans are there because they listened to the gedolim is really a cheap swipe at her insinuating that she doesnt appreciate who they are . Nothing could be further from the truth.She has love and admiration for everyone but has a real problem . Anyone who doesnt want to know will just continue with the slander. But we all know that many Americans do not want to become Israeli. There are those who allow their children to become Israeli Chareidie and those who want their children to remain American within that society. I am not being judgemental . But for a woman trying to serve the community it is a problem.
    The silly idea that since Americans are supporting Chinuch Atmai they have to accept the americans in that school is nothing but that .It is a bunch of hyper and silliness. Years ago it was known that Ponevez did not accept Americans because they did not do well in that totally Israeli Yeshiva . Does that mean that Americansd should not have supported them .And by the way I wonder if all these people who are clamoring to have their children accepted in her school, will they allow their children to marry the children who they are forcing them on ,or will they look for an american israeli shiduch or even totally americanshidduchfor their children.so who is discriminating?

    I am aware of the two sides. I do not mean to say that Mrs Sokolovsky is necessarily correct . However I think all of you should apologize to a valaint women who is trying to do what very well might be the best for all the children.The parents who are insisting that she accept them do not in any way know the nor do they want to understand the problems from her end as a fair an concerened machaneches .

  34. Navon and Miriamlu, You are both SO SO right. I have my children in different schools so I am not nogea bedovor about this particular story. I made a decision together with the decision to come and live in EY that I will bring up my children in line with the Israeli system. That means that although I speak fluent yiddish and I would have loved my children to learn in yiddish too, I was mevater and they all speak ivrit (at home we still speak english) without understanding yiddish. I try to keep out the western influences from my home including all the latest high-tech equipments etc. BH my children are socially accepted, happy and doing well in all their institutions (includes seminaries, yeshivos ketanos and yeshivos gedolos besides the chadorim and Beis Yacovs). I fully understand he problems facing Rebbetzin Sokolovsky, as much pressure that she is standing up too from the americans, she is getting double or triple from the israeli parents begging for this segregation.

    One cheder principal called me up to ask me to talk to another american father to stop him from allowing his sons to bring digital cameras, gameboys etc to school. This principal had tried unsuccessfully to explain to this father on many occasions that this is unacceptable in israeli circles. His last try before expelling the WHOLE family from the cheder was me. Perhaps a fellow-american who does understand could explain it better. I did manage but on the surface only ie they dont bring them to school but at home there is EVERYTHING. I personally would not allow my children to play in their house and most israelis feel that way too. These children are not doing well socially or academically and are on the road to drop-out…. By the way, the father is in kollel and even gives shiurim too.

    There is no need for brain-transplants as another post declared, but an acceptance of the israeli system and a decision to live with not live against.

    Personally, I dont agree with this attitude of segregation and I believe that there are better and simpler methods of dealing with the problems, but to just call it anti-americanism is wrong, misleading and moitzi shem rah. The principals face daily problems with the chutz lo’oretz crowds and each attempts in their own way to deal with it. They deserve our respect and admiration even if we respectfully disagree with their opinions.

  35. Achein Noda Hadavar

    Anyone who wishes to verify the veracity of the article can contact Rav Noach Orlowich ( Rav of Ramat Eshkol) or Rav Aharon Feldman (Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisrael).

  36. There is a real problem of cultural gap – SO WHAT, don’t yidden from Manchester, Zurich, bnei brak and Monsey have a cultural gap- BIG DEAL!!!

    This has been an oncoming debate, the Israeli system which was imported from Europe has become the newest Torah MiSinai, and either you must obey and tow the line or else. BTW what is the
    big deal? So the bas yakov girls are wearing button down blouses from Lands Ends and V neck sweaters with stiching that is not sold in Israel. BLACK & WHITE is not the only way, (how did the shevatim ever get along with their blatant differences)wake up in the morning and look for a rainbow of colors.

  37. you can be sure the schools these americans attended back in brooklyn or lakewood practiced the same exclusivity in their admission policy. only those people who look as we do are worthy of attending our school. but then it was ok. and now that your on the outside its not ?. as chashuve as these yugeleit may feel themselves to be , they are not and for the most would not live the lifestyle of an israeli ben torah. to then insist on being allowed in to their school (i want there for i am ) is more than just selfish its … american . which is exactly the reason they are not wanted.

  38. I would like to comment here based on the fact that I live in the neighborhood and know a bit more from the inside, living here in EY close to a decade. I personally think and I am not the only one who feels this way,that the average beis Yaakov girl in America is finer than her Israeli counterpart(this is not to say that there are no extrafine Israeli BY girls there are but they are not the majority)that being said this situation where all American-should be corrected to English speaking children were grouped together into one class is ridiculous and unacceptable. The same way there are good Israeli homes there are Good English Speaking Homes, and this also applies to the problematic homes. I agree there is a mentality difference in the backgrounds but as I see it from knowing the Israeli families who send and American families who send the Israelis have a lot to learn from the Americans and vice versa. You are talking about ultra-orthodox families who conform to the school’s standards. They don’t easily accept every child, they are very picky even though it is a neighborhood school.
    Many of the American families living in the neighborhood live more simply than plenty of the Israelis. In any healthy society rich and poor (high standard/lows tandard) integrate. I know that this year a private school here in Yerushalayim in this area, Israeli parents requested that they group the english speaking kids all into one class and the Israelis into the others,after the classes had been set and school started, a meeting took place and B”H the segregation did not happen. The parents only requested this because of what is going on in the BY Tzafon school.Therefor I think it is really important that YWN posted this article.I would like to point out that in today’s generation we might need to shelter our children from the outside world but if we will not expose them to different highly observent Yidden than what happened in Yerushalayim this election will only be the start of a very ugly chain of events.

  39. I would like to respond to what #17 wrote. I grew up here to American parents. I can completely symphthize with what #17 wrote (ie that a lot of the blame falls on the families who can’t seem to leave America behind)especially since I saw this with many of my friends, who grew up in very American homes, and had trouble fitting into the Israeli Bais Yaakov system. However, I think #17 herself is stuck in what was true in the past. Today the families making the choice to stay here are much more mainstream “yeshivish” and are definitely wonderful families who can be called the “cream of the crop”. The families she was referring to in Ramat Eshkol and Maalot Dafna who “have behavior that no Bais Yaakov even in Boro Park would accept” is only true about the “temporaries” – people coming for a year or two or even more, but whose kids never hit school age. Those more serious, who have older kids and are still here, are wonderful people, living true Torah lives in Eretz Yisrael with real mesiras nefesh, and I think the Israeli community should be proud to accept them, and have a lot to learn from them.
    I would also like to stress that as an “American Israeli” I get to hear both sides. From what I hear from many of the Israeli parents in the school, Mrs. Sokolovsky is unfortunately not alone in this. It seems she is getting tremendous pressure from Israeli “elitest” who don’t want their daughters associating with Americans who “travel to America all the time (to see their grandparents whom they can only see once a year), wear sneakers (?) and eat pizza (Is it treif?)”

  40. To Eye opener,
    You are truly correct ibn a perfect world but very incorrect from a practical stanpoint.
    I too believe that American Bais ayakov girls are finer than many Israeli BY girls . as a matter of fact I like American Jews in general the entire structure of Americam Jewry and their mindset . That is precisely why I painfully chose to live in america. So that I could raise my children as such.
    You must be tolerant enoughn to realize however that the Israeli Jew doesnt agree with me . And they think their product is better than mine .
    I do believe for example, that the girls in williamburg have something to learn from the girls in BY in Lakewood and vice versa. In a truly perfect world we wouuld somehow lump everyone together and learn from one another . But you know if we tried that it would fail and you would nebver move to williamburg and send your child to a Satmar school ,even with all your good intentions.
    The israeli american problem in Yerusahlayom is not quitwe an analogy to lakewood and satmar, but is meant to bring out a point. There are major differences and raising platitudes about co existence and tolerating one another with violins playing in the backround will not change that reality. Given that reality and the difficulty of keeping a school together in the first place ,it is very very intolerant of everyone to expect one woman to solve the problems of the world . She has to run a school that was made originalluy to catre to th elocal population.
    The americans are wonderful .Ithink so but i must admiot I am an ameruicam myself. I do know many wonderful families of bnei Torah who out of love and respect for each others real Torahdidke lifestyle put everything else aside and became wonderful mechutanim exactly as you would wnt to happen in a perfect world .

    We teach many things in school. But to expect a princiopal to overcome deeply ingrained attitudes at the expense of a school that she built all her life , with real problems of integration . is unfair and unrealistic. And mind you even if you are correct that she should ,I submit again that th etone of the article that was written is a shame and an outrage . It is articles like these that are not understanding of another persons strugle that causes problems in our community .There are two real legitimate sides to this story. No one is the villian.

  41. To Navon,
    I would like to point out that the Hanhala of the school has to realize that the makeup of ssociety in Yerushalayim today is very different than when the school was established. In the past ten years that I live in the Sanhedria area the place changed, with time more and more Chutznikim are settling and therefor if the school will not come to an agreement than in another 10 years they will probably close down because there won’t be enough Israeli kids. BTW many of my Israeli neighbors who send to the school have one or more Chutznik parents. It is very nice that you chose to live in America but due to that you or anyone who is not here upclose cannot begin to understand the problems involved. I still feel that YWN is doing a very important service by posting this article in support of the evils being done to these innocent children. It’s very nice to be cordial and listen to both sides yes there is another side but it has to be dealt with not one side abusing the other.

  42. To eye opener ,It is not clear to me who is perpertarating evil upon whom. Maybe someone who decides to live in israel although there is no education system for Americans are the ones perpertrating evil upon their children. It is not brave or commendable to move to israel because of Ruchniyus and then blame the existing system for not helping you make your dream come true. There are many problems with the present system of people living in two countries, certainly the cost of real estate which might indeed push out all Israelis from Yerushalayim. I still do not take sides . I fail to accept the notion that peoplewho are native Isarelis have no right to protect the proper functioning of their schools and the characterization of that behavior as harming innocent children. The parents have to take responsibility for the situation they are in . I do not know what it would take to make an american school in Yerushalayim. I hav e no idea if it is at all possible , But if it was I dont believe that difficulty in doing so would constitute an evil on th epart of th epresent system . So its difficult to make a new school? so its difficult for them to absorb all the americans! Maybe they are ultimately doing all of you a favor. If need be you will make a school with people who appreciate the integration that you describe and leave the others alone . You cant make a new school? who says