UTJ Rejects Charges of Discrimination in Chareidi Schools


chareidimUTJ representatives in the Knesset rejected on Tuesday claims raised by the Knesset State Control Committee alleging discrimination against Sephardim in the chareidi educational system.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said he firmly opposes discrimination and even supports a law against it that would carry penalties. He noted that the Lithuanian chareidi education system has a large number of students, both boys and girls, from Sephardic backgrounds.

“My wife is vice principal of a seminary in Bnei Brak where 65 percent of the students are Sephardic; and not only the students, but many of the teachers at chareidi schools around the country are Sephardic as well. On a day-to-day basis I deal with families that contact me to help place students in educational institutions. There is no such discrimination. This claim is a lie. There may be certain people who were rejected because of a lack of space or because they were not suited to the institution and they then made claims of discrimination. This deceitful slander will not confound the fact that there are many Sephardic students at both boys’ schools and girls’ schools.”

Rabbi Gafni also told the committee and State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss that in light of the discussion, rather than rising up against a nonexistent practice and waging a concerted campaign, a battle should be waged to back the institutions.

“Come to Bnei Brak and see how 40 girls sit together in a ramshackle classroom or 38 boys sit in a leaky caravan classroom. You’re looking for discrimination? Go to North Tel Aviv, to Savion, and see what’s happening there compared to the chareidi education system.”

MK Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Mozes told the committee that it was hypocritical to dub chareidi schools as discriminatory and that MKs should refrain from hiding behind slogans. “If you want to talk about discrimination we have to address the real discrimination in this country,” he said. “At one of the Knesset meetings figures from the Adva Report were presented, indicating that the chareidi public is discriminated against in the work place. Why do you feign innocence and seek out injustice elsewhere? The State of Israel discriminates against an entire sector!

“At schools in the chareidi sector students study in horrendously crowded conditions, in contrast to official schools. That’s not discrimination? In Jerusalem there is a shortfall of 1,137 classrooms for the chareidi sector alone. That’s not discrimination? Two days ago it was reported that in a district court Judge Sobol determined that the Education Ministry must provide funding for an educational institution if it’s not in a proper building or lacks building permits. What’s that if not discrimination?

“We don’t have anywhere to study, we don’t have enough classrooms, we find temporary solutions and then we’re punished for it?! Unfortunately the State of Israel is a class state, and we should not be looking, here in the chareidi education system, for the latest victim to take the blame,” charged Rabbi Mozes.

Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, provided figures on the high number of Sephardic students enrolled and teaching in the school system. “How can such deceitful claims be lodged against an educational enterprise where most of the resources were funneled to the Sephardic sector? Not a single judicial entity has determined discrimination is present. I invite you to the schools to see this with your own eyes, and I’m convinced that when you come back you’ll all beat your chest and recite `Al Cheit.’ A big to-do has been made over nothing,” said Rabbi Lazerson.

At the conclusion of the meeting Lindenstrauss announced that his office was currently looking into the issue of discrimination in the recognized-but-unofficial education system, saying the inquiry would be complete within a few weeks.

Rabbi Tzvi Baumel, deputy director of Chinuch Atzmai, who for years has been closely familiar with the issue and the statistics, issued a statement saying, “This is a libel and a deliberate act of degradation by figures with a vested interest. It has nothing to do with the reality. The reality of the past several years proves how much the system devotes efforts to accept every boy and girl and fosters a sense of belonging among the students in the fabulous Chinuch Atzmai system.”

{Deiah Vedibur/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. here in the US at least, the women I’ve met of Sephardi background, even if first generation Americans have unbelievable emuna and yiras Shamayim.

  2. Discrimination against sephardim and americans has a long history. The Chazon Ish ZT”L had to deal with it, as quoted in the book “In Their Shadow” By Shlomo Lorincz.