Chacham Ovadia: Shas Schools Must Accept Ethiopian Students


chacham-ovadiah-yosefChacham Ovadia Yosef said today that any school principal from Shas’ school system who refuses to receive Ethiopian students will be fired. In parallel, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Rav Shlomo Amar announced that it was forbidden to send Ethiopian students to the secular school system. “If I was brought into this world only to help the Ethiopians that is enough for me”, said Rav Yosef this morning during a meeting with Rav Amar in his home in Yerushalayim’s Har Nof neighborhood, according to Rav Amar’s spokesman.

Rav Amar’s spokesman said that the chief rabbi ruled that it was forbidden to integrate the Ethiopians in secular state schools because many were Falashmura who were still in the process of converting to Yiddishkeit.

“If one of those children comes before a rabbinical court to convert and he or she does not know anything about Yahadus it will be problematic,” said Rav Amar’s spokesman.

Many Ethiopians have been integrated into Shas’ Mayan Hachinuch Hatorani.

“Anyone who refuses to accept Ethiopians should get up and go home,” Rav Yosef said according to Rav Amar’s spokesman.

The spokesman said that in an agreement reached with the Petach Tikvah municipality, Shas’ schools would help absorb the Ethiopian students.

The meeting this morning was attended by Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Building and Housing Minister Ariel Atias.

The comments came a day after the Education Ministry nixed a deal reached between the Petach Tikva municipality and the city’s schools on the enrollment of some 100 students of Ethiopian origin. The Education Ministry had said that it will find a solution that will enable the immigrant children, who have been refused admission into three semi-private religious Petach Tikva schools, to begin the school year normally on Tuesday.

The ministry has also decided to pull the funding from the Lamerhav, Da’as Mevinim and Darkei Noam schools, the three semi-private institutions that refused to accept the students.

Two demonstrations will be held today to protest against the schools’ refusal to enroll the Ethiopian children, a refusal that has been widely perceived as a case of racial discrimination and was harshly criticized by Israeli leaders.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke out against the rejection of Ethiopian children in schools, calling it “a moral terror attack.”

An Ethiopian oleh organization is planning a demonstration in Yerushalayim, while a parents’ organization will protest outside the Petach Tikva municipality building.

The Knesset Education Committee will hold a special hearing on the matter this afternoon.

The city’s parents’ council has threatened to strike and disturb the opening the new school year on Tuesday.

{JPost/Yair Israel}