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The Case of Beis Yaakov Chasidic School for Girls in Emmanuel, Israel

Wednesday June 16, 2010 12:32 PM - 11 Comments

emmanuel[Report courtesy of Beis Yaakov Emanuel] Background: The Beis Yaakov Chasidi was founded in 2007, the small town of Emanuel, Israel, as a stricter alternative to the original Beis Yaakov. Two of its founders were Rav Shimon Ba’adani of Bnei Brak and Rav Bar Lev, Rabbi of Emanuel. It placed in the top floor of the original Beis Yaakov in the vacated rooms that used to belong to the high school; the high school had moved to its own building in 2004.

There are two other girls’ schools in Emanuel - 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. The three boy’s schools were then and continue to be Chabad Lubavitch, Shas-Mayan Sephardic, and Chassidic.

What makes the Beis Yaakov Chasidi school different is its standards, in particular standards concerning tznius, no MP3s, exposure to media, etc.

The original Beis Yacov was largely comprised of Chassidic families. The demographics here changed. Members of the chassidic community were moving out, and the flavor the original Beis Yaakov was becoming more modern. Outreach programs began in an effort to encourage people to move the original Beis Yaakov back towards its original narrower interpretation of the Israeli Haredi lifestyle. This outreach did not succeed, so the Chassidim formed their own school - in their minds, returning to the original school’s former style.

The formation of the Beis Yaakov Chasidi was an effort by members of the original Chassidic population here to re-create the kind of Beis Yaakov that they had a decade ago. It was a stricter school - in terms of dress, exposure to media, even to some aspects of Haredi culture that they feel is not for them as in Haredi “rock music”, choice of careers, etc.

LAWSUIT

Upon its opening, an individual who does not reside in Emanuel sued the school for ethnic discrimination, claiming that this was a school for Ashkenazi students only.

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.

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.

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 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

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 below.

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.”

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.

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 childrenHere, 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.

{Beis Yaakov Emmanuel}

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}

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11 Responses to “The Case of Beis Yaakov Chasidic School for Girls in Emmanuel, Israel”

1. Comment from Ben Levi
Time June 16, 2010 at 1:36 PM

We who live in Golus can only daven that those who follow the dictates of the Gedolei Yisroel who have been the ones who preserved and watched over Klal Yisroel for thousands of years should persevere.

2. Comment from Mike
Time June 16, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Why protest and not share the same classes. I fail to see the problem with the courts request to have the students study together and seperate for Halacha (which is different for sphardim and ashkenazim) and prayer (which is also different). If there is no hatered why are the parents putting up a fight. Can’t we all get along?

3. Comment from Principal
Time June 16, 2010 at 4:02 PM

If a Mechon girl refuses to go to Satmar or if Satmar refuses to accet a Michon girl is it because of discrimination or is it because its a different way of life.

Why does a Skwere girl not go to Satmar school?
Liberals see everything black and white

4. Comment from Torah is always true
Time June 16, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Anyone who is in CHinuch knows that there are different nuances in tefillah and halacha between S and A, and so did Judge Levy.

5. Comment from YH
Time June 16, 2010 at 6:47 PM

Wish the author got the word right. It’s “tracks” not “tracts.”

6. Comment from A grown man sitting & crying
Time June 16, 2010 at 7:47 PM

Can someone please help me?

Maybe I missed it, but who exactly is the Complainant -> name or group of names

Perhaps I missed it, but this piece of information is missing. All I got from the above article is ’someone from outside Emmanual’. This doesn’t make sense?

7. Comment from Anonymous
Time June 16, 2010 at 8:07 PM

R’ Elyashiv, R’ Steinman, R’ Wosner, and the entire spectrum of Gedolei Yisroel have unequivocally called for all to join the rally tomorrow to be Mechazek these parents and to demonstrate against the court decision. Under their guidance all schools, yeshivas & kollelim in Bnei Brak 7 yerushalyim will close tommorow so everyone can attend. The gedolim themselves in a rare move are going to personally attend and adress the Tzibur. Israeli media is reporting that they expect hundreds of thousands of shomrei torah to show up tomorow to rally in support of the Torah.
HOW THEN CAN MANY JEWISH MEDIA OUTLETS (not Matzav.com boruch Hashem) QUOTE THIS INCIDENT AS IF THERE ARE 2 SIDES TO THE ISSUE? SINCE WHEN DO THE OPINIONS OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES COUNT WHEN THEY’RE IN DIRECT OPPOSITION THE DAAS OF ALL THE GEDOLEI HADOR? WHEN THE GEDOLIM HAVE DECIDED THAT IT’S WORTH IT TO BE MEVATEL TORAH OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF YIDDEN TOMORROW FOR THIS CAUSE HOW THEN CAN ONE ENTERTAIN A QUESTION OF WHO IS RIGHT?

8. Comment from Forced integration NEVER works
Time June 16, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Yeh, I guess there is nothing wrong with mixing milk & meat either. So stupid these Liberals.

9. Comment from yoheved
Time June 20, 2010 at 1:29 PM

this is the best article i have seen so far about this issue… my son studies in a yeshiva in Israel and was at the demonstration, marching with his Yemenite chavrusa, also a yeshiva bochur. this is clearly not about ashkenazi vs. sephardi: it is about the separation all hareidi (many of whom are Sephardic) must practice at this time because the schools governed by the Shas party (called the Rabbanut) have, in my son’s words, ‘taken a dip’… in their requirements of Torah observance … in other words… if the RamBam, the Chason Ish, and Rav Yosef Caro, three Sephardic giants who have governed halacha throughout all of Judaism for centuries, would be able to eat, teach, and send their daughters to that school, it would never have been necessary to create a separate (more religious) girl’s school in the first place…

10. Comment from blogspot on Emanuel
Time June 21, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Lallum Did Not Keep His Word to the Beth Din. The Beth Din Responds:

Beith Din Tsedek
Jerusalem
28 Chaiey Adam Street

Founded in the year 1978 by HaGaon Rav Levin zt”l

Ninth of Tammuz 5770 (June 21 2010)
File number 1590

Slonim of Emanuel et al (side A) vs. Yoav Lallum et al (side B)

Protocol

As of now, the Beth Din has not received any notice stating that Mr. Lallum notified the Supreme Court on his alleged withdrawal of his suit against side A. This, despite the decision of the Beth Din yesterday afternoon that he is obligated to do so immediately, within three hours.

The decision of the Beth Din yesterday –that beginning this year there should be no divisions in the Chinuch Atzmai Emanuel School unless ordered by the Beth Din – has been spread to the media as if “the Beth Din supports the ruling of the Supreme Court …that the school was divided racially” This has created an awful desecration of the Holy Name, and goes against all the Gedolei Yisrael that came out against this Supreme Court ruling.

Decision and Clarification

First it shall be clarified, that after Mr. Lallum signed on the letter from the Beth Din, the Beth Din agreed to enter into this issue in order to save the women from imprisonment, and also to free the men, as long as Mr. Lallum would remove the case from the Supreme Court

It has become clear that Mr. Lallum broke the order of the Beth Din from the fourth of Tammuz (June 16 2010), in requesting of the Supreme Court to judge the Chinuch Atzmai for contempt of court, to remove from it funds and to remove license from the Emanuel parents to make a private school.

Mr. Lallum has not complied with the Beth Din’s order yesterday to withdraw his suit from the Supreme Court, and this nullifies the decision of the Beth Din…thus the Beth Din views this as contempt of the Beth Din, and any case that was appointed between the sides is null and void.

….Turning to a secular court is without any approval of the Beth Din, and is akin to brazen rebellion against the Torah of Moses.

The Beth Din clarifies that its order yesterday was not intended against side A concerning the division that was done in the school in Emanuel, in so far as no parent in Emanuel ever came to protest against this division of levels of education in the school.

The interpretation that was given to the media concerning yesterday’s Beth Din decision as if it supports the Supreme Court ruling is against Da’as Torah. Any portrayal as if the Beth Din determined that there was discrimination, is null and void. This is a completely, wickedly twisted message that was given to the media. The decision of the Beth Din – as all of the Gedolei Yisrael – was and remains, that every decision in the management of schools shall only be according to Da’as Torah of the Gedolei Yisrael. It is Da’as Torah which decides, and none other.

Mr. Lallum had intended to sue Chinuch Atzmai schools, and not necessarily the parents and others in Emanuel, thus the restraint order was not against side A.

Signed

HaRav Avraham David Levin, Av Beth Din

HaRav Mordechai Eichler

HaRav David Yehoshua Kenig

With the Seal of the Beth Din Tsedek, Chayey Adam Street, Jerusalem

for more info:

http://beisyaakovemanuel.blogspot.com/

11. Comment from Secular
Time June 22, 2010 at 2:51 AM

I am hiloni (secular) but support the right of haredim to arrange their children’s schooling as they see fit.

The Supreme Court has gone too far in its power-hungry, grotesque hatred of haredim.

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