Update on Discrimination At Chinuch Atzmai Bais Yaakov


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clasroom.jpgOn November 20th, YWN reported (HERE) on discrimination in Jerusalem’s Beis Yaakov HaTzafon against children from American families.

YWN promised to follow up and at present, the situation is as follows;

Numerous calls, over ten, were made to Rabbi Tzvi Baumel, a very senior Chinuch Atzmai official, who is dealing with this issue. I did manage to speak with him briefly on two occasions, and during the last conversation, he requested that I call back “in a number of hours”, informing me he was about to head for a meeting “with the Americans”, also explaining that “I met with the Israelis”. After this meeting he stated he would be able to give an up-to-date statement.

Well, YWN checked in depth with “the Americans” and not only was there no meeting, but none was scheduled. I have become somewhat acquainted with the rabbi’s secretary, but I am no longer reaching him but I do intend to continue trying. His diversionary tactics are to be commended, but efforts to obtain an accurate update will continue.

I did speak with staff members of Rabbi Avraham Yosef Lazerson, another senior official and a subordinate of Rav Baumel, and he immediately directed me to Rav Baumel.

In addition, YWN did reach one former Beis Yaakov HaTzafon family, who has since returned to the United States. While the young man indicated he would be willing to grant an interview, attempts to arrange that interview have not been successful to date.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. we are 25 years here in Jerusalem-and we are a yeshivish family. my girls all went through the system in of one of the Beis Yaakov’s located in Northern Jerusalem- now B”H
    I have grandchildren in early grades going starting in the beis yakov in Ramat Beit Shemesh. I am afraid to give too many details about the unbelievable bad experiences I have been through – enormous insensitivity from both principals and teachers who consider themselves little emperors . Because I still live in the community and have many deep open scars from the experiences- I felt I had to write-it’s about time the problem has been exposed.

    Problem #1– many of the teachers lack any understanding of Americans and are not really interested in developing an understanding-teaching jobs are given out on the basis of who their grandfather is instead of what their teaching credentials are.

    Their main interest is : conformity in appearance and showing good marks.

    2. COMPLAINT BOARD OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL: There is no one outside the system to talk to if you have a complaint – there should be a separate body to deal with problems within the system. Once the principal or teacher makes a decision or behaves IMPROPERLY-who can you go to? The Rav of the Community? YOu then label your child and the next time you want to enroll another child into their school-let’s see what happens.
    I know families whose married children cannot enroll their children in the beis yaakov because of the “name” that was put on them while they were attending BY. I am not talking about families whose behavior is “off the derech”-They just don’t fit into that little “blue – blood” Israeli box.

    3.SHIDDUCHIM: why don’t we just make our own school?
    Over the years I have heard from countless complaints from American bene-yeshiva parents how they are unhappy with the system -but “that’s all there is”. If you want a good Shiddich for your daughter,you better play the game straight to the end. Even if she is suffering, hang in there.

    CLASS SIZE:The classes are far too large-35 girls -EVEN AN earnest teacher who wants to reach her students cannot do so in large classes-many say that the emphasis is just on keeping the class quiet so she can give over a lesson. Only the most gifted students will succeed in such a situation.

    4.RECOGNITION OF AMERICAN POPULATIONS BY CHINUCH ATZMAI-that there are overwhelming numbers of Americans learning in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh schools and the staff has to reflect sensitivity and understanding and be more FLEXIBLE in recognition of the population mix in the class. if not, I shudder to think of all the fall- off’s in the system.


    From what I have heard FROM MY CHILDREN there is a big crises in Beit Shemesh right now between the groups[Israeli and American Haredi}. I am not talking about admitting children from homes where there is problems with modesty and improper
    goyish entertainment. I think it is dangerous to make a school based on the highest and strictest bene torah standards of dress speech and behavior, even though that should be a goal -we are in a crises regarding education and many are not able to live up to these standards-WHy?
    Sarah Shneirer concentrated first on reaching the child and inspiring them to go higher. If you don’t reach the girl’s neshomah-then you are just producing ROBOTS and not really educating anyone Jewishly,-we are after JEWISH education and not just good marks —that’s why we have chinuch Atzmai-but it will fail if we don’t immediately do something about the increasing gaps in the systems between teacher and student. The key is showing real love for the child and let her feel it—and trying to inspire them.-not hysterical adherence to guidelines imposed without dealing with the child and family.
    The questions is, does the typical BY staff have the proper training to do this, is there enough money to divide large classes into 2, is there a willingness to recognize problems and to really try to make improvements?


  2. There is no question these are serious problems and they must be dealt with. However,Chinuch Atzmai was established and suported unanimosly by all the gedolim (American and Israely) of priveous generation They were moser nefesh for it and it is the only alternative to government schools which I assure you are not any better to say the least and that’s why the Chinuch Atzmai was created. Therfore just becouse now there are some corrupt people there, the way to deal with the problems is not by not giving them money, that will not help add any classes, but American askonim should get involved and put serious pressure on these guys or whatever, there are many ways they could change the situation but not by not not giving the money. Thats only going to make them more corrupt.
    PS. Thiry five kids in a class is obviously because lack of funds.

  3. Being personally involved in the Beis Yaakov issue– I am very dissappointed in this web site.

    1. The ORIGINAL article is emotionally charged- presenting the girls as suffering- I know it is personally not true at the level presented- most girls in the class don’t know they are being discriminated against- they are told just that ”there is a problem in the class that has not been fixed yet.”

    2. The strike has been going on for a month- and all involved have tried very hard to keep the information confined to those that need to know- my own family did not know until it became public.
    –why hide it? there is a halachic question of loshon hara l’toeles and causing chillul H’ ( many don’t see a machlokes based on shitos, which is what this is- rather they see a personal attack — as you see from the comments on the article )– the assumption is that “Yeshiva” news will stay within halachik bounds- not just print what is exciting. You can discuss an issue — but who gave you the right to mention names– clearly the site needs to brush up on hilchos loshon hara.
    There are many Gedolim in America that are aware of the problem and are dealing with it– did you ask them if you could print the article?

    3. Did you consider for a moment why the parents didn’t make it public? Did you ask R Berkowitz his opinion- (he holds it was an issur gamur!!)

    –My suggestion to the site is to really consider what they you allowed to print.
    — The readers should also ask their Rav- if one is allowed to read news from such as news source.
    Please ask the site- who are they asking their halachik questions to.

    — I hope you realize that people reading Goyish news half believe it-but ”yeshiva world” they fully believe– that is very dangerous- they have no heter of kabalas lashon hara.
    (Clearly, if people are deciding to stop donations based on the news presented here- that is assur– don’t believe me– ask your local orthodox Rav.

    –In summation:Before publishing news – THINK- what does Hashem want- or ask a question to a Rav if you are not sure you can be objective.

  4. #3 and #7, your comments truly disgust me. Do you think for one second that Rabbi Lazersonor or Rav Baumel were involved in this, or that it will not be dealt with?! Chinuch Atzmai is an incredible and sorely needed organization that brings incredible amounts of Torah and Yiddishkait into this world. How DARE you encourage people not to give to this worthwhile cause, endorsed by all the Gedolim, because of rumors of possible discrimination in one school?!

  5. I’m licensed & experienced, and taught at a talmud torah in RBS. Basically, it’s a “light Chareidi” boys elementary school which gets money from the gov’t for teaching a little math & English. That’s very popular among Americans — at least 1/3 of the kids are from English-speaking homes. Anyhow, not all the dovrei anglit were problems, but almost all big-problem kids were dovrei anglit (except for a few Sephardim, i.e. the other group that always screams about discrimination). Truth is most American boys are lazier & show much less respect for the rebbe, compared to their non-Sephardic classmates. An American kid throws a crazy uncontrollable tantrum, & his parents threaten the school & the teacher with lawsuits. You’re looking for an excuse to stop supporting Chinuch Atzmai? OK, but for his own sake, QUIT SPOILING YOUR CHILD!

  6. The title of this article and the previous article is in itself an outrage. How can you decide that discrimination is taking place without listening to the other side?

    The people who say that we should not support Chinuch Atsmai are all likewise buying all the slanted onesided information as fact and helping create a machlokes for no good reason.
    I do not suppose that all Isrtaeli principals are angels and I do imagine that there have been times when American children have not been treated as well as they should have been treated. But to decide that the schools are discriminating (negative term ) rather than trying to balance a serious real problem is frankly maicious. All of you people who contribute to this should just remember what happened in India. Everyone is reminded that in times of tragedy we unite,. Well lets try and unite a little and see if we cant hear the other side of the equation. I wrote this once before . This Mrs sokolovsky that you are all villifying , is far from a villian. I would venture say that she cartes more about the American children in Yerushalayim more than all the loose keyboards sending comments into yeshiva world. It really is cowardly to sound off against someone and a perceived issue which was started excuse me by the editors of yeshiva world writing with a slant in the first place.
    In my first comment I suggested that everyone read what The sainted Chazon Ish writes in Emunah and Bitachon about these types of machlokes. Every good hearted person feels for the underdog and rallies to their defense. But often people have a grave error in deciding who the “Nirdof” is and who the “Rodef” is .
    The people who have taken the side that their children have been “unfairly discriminated against” have an opinion which has been accepted by all of you .So you all including the arrogant wealthy supporters of Chinuch Atsmai who feel they should wield their power by withholding their contributions until the evil is corrected , All of you might be making a grave mistake. You have never spoken to Mrs Sokolovsky . None of you . I have. And a sthe Chazon Ish writes as you lift up your eyes to Hashem and say save our children from their opreesors Hashem might just answer all of you “woe unto all of you because you have become the oppressors.
    I would like the editors of this insane article to visit Mrs sokolovsky to hear the other side before they assume the position of all the American parents who after all are just that . americans not Israeli . What do the Israelis in all this say ?You dont even have a clue!

    Sometimes wealthy people can use their influence to solve problems however historically they cause more problems when they start giving orders than they ever solved.

  7. Reminds me of Lakewood schools.
    This is where they’re heading.
    They take kids who don’t need work.
    They deal with Chitzonias.
    Maybe this is why the “at risk” problem is growing!)
    And shame on them R’Solomon had to get stressed and sick because of these Lakewood schools.
    ( especially the one that will take money from a working stiff but not his kids. Even if he was a normal yesiva bochur and the mother a nice beis yakov girl.)

  8. This is a business matter. If you don’t like the vendor, or if the vendor is obnoxious, shop elsewhere. There are other options. Once American’s come to hate the current school enough, they will avail themselves of those other options; be they Shuvu schools, the Mamalachti Dati schools or other unaffiliated schools.