Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Israeli Supreme Court, the Haredim and Beit Yaakov

Photo: Kikar Shabbat


There is nothing new about the division of Sepharadim and Ashkenazim in Israeli society. The same in haredi society where haredi Sepharadim are known to Ashkenazim by the nickname "Frenk".
Ashkenazi Haredim don't marry into Sephardi society; Sepharadim, on the other hand, seem to have less problems with marrying an Ashkenazi Jew. However, an Ashkenazi Haredi marrying a Sephardi usually means that there is something wrong with him / her. Problematic to society, handicapped or whatever. Not suitable for another haredi Ashkenazi.

The haredi girls' school "Beit Yaakov" is also divided between Ashkenazi students and Sephardi students. First of all, both groups keep different customs within Judaism and secondly, Ashkenazi parents see the Sepharadim as a kind of primitive and not suitable for studying with their children. It is harder finding a good Shidduch when your kids studied together with Sephardi girls.
This is a fact and a society issue.

The Israeli town Emmanuel has a Beit Yaakov and made the usual division. The Sephardi parents, however, went wild because they consider the Ashkenazi reaction as rassist behaviour. Now Israel's Supreme Court decided that the Ashkenazi Beit Yaakov cannot make a division anymore but Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls have to learn together. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv and most Ashkenazim went beserk and the Ashkenazi parents in Emmanuel are even prepared to go to jail than following the verdict of the Supreme Court.

Honestly I don't see the point of Sephardi parents why they want to send their children to an Ashkenazi school. A school where the students don't say "Shabbat Shalom" but "Gut Schabbes", for instance. Why doing so when, on the other hand, Sepharadim gossip about this kind of Ashkenazi language ? Just because it is better for their girls to have an Ashkenazi education ? If I had children, I wouldn't insist on sending them to a Sephardi school.

Last night I heard a report on the issue on a haredi radio channel. One of the Ashkenazi parents from Emmanuel was interviewed and this father said that Emmanuel is flooded with newly Baalei Teshuva. Many of the Sephardi girls are not even yet religious because their parents have only recently started their Teshuva process. Furthermore, many of those girls don't even keep Shabbat (yet). Baalei Teshuva always come with problems and it takes time to solve them. If they are being solved. Beit Yaakov girls, however, are supposed to be religious and various Sephardi girls living in Emmanuel are not.

The problem is that Beit Yaakov belongs to the Agudath Israel and is financed by the Israeli government. The result is that the State of Israel has the right to interfere into internal Beit Yaakov matters. Even a secular and anti - haredi Supreme Court. Other groups such as Dushinsky or Toldot Aharon don't accept education support from the government and are thus independent.

The secular Israeli newspaper "Yediot Acharonot" is making a big fuss in huge headlines today. How rassist Ashkenazi Haredim are and what all the mess is about. It is very easy though to make claims when one doesn't know society. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court will not change haredi society in any way and Baalei Teshuva parents should think before sending their (secular) children to a haredi school. One should take a teshuva process in tiny steps and not "Ort School" today and "Talmud Torah" tomorrow. This doesn't work !


  1. Woe to the hand that accepts the handout from the government...because there are always conditions attached. For all those here in the States that want vouchers, just be careful what you wish for.

  2. There should be an embrace of "Baalei Teshuvah" and that is what REAL Judaism is about, not so quick to be disgusted by other Jews and segregating them from your schools when they earnestly want to be frum and are willing to go to your school to learn more etc... This really seems very questionable at best and quite unJewish and racist at worst.
    Definitely not an example of Ahavas Yisrael!