Gedolei Eretz Yisroel Meet Over Threat to Future of Israeli Chinuch

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rav-shteinmanIsraeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s declared crackdown on their state-funded schools remained unanswered on Monday, after gedolei Eretz Yisroel, fearful that Sa’ar would tighten supervision of core curriculum instruction, convened Sunday night at the home of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman to confront what they consider external meddling in a crucial internal matter.

 Present at the meeting in Bnei Brak were Rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz, Rav Nissim Karelitz, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shmuel Auerbach, Rav Berel Povarsky, Rav Yaakov Adas, Rav Moshe Tzadka, the Belzer Rebbe, the Sanzer Rebbe, the Boyaner Rebbe, and Rav Yisroel Hager of Vizhnitz. Also present were a number of roshei yeshivos and cheder principals from around the country.

Last week, at the Industry and Trade Ministry’s socioeconomic ministerial conference, Sa’ar stated that “charedi schools that receive 100 percent state funding by law will learn core curriculum subjects to that extent. This year NIS 21 million were cut from the budgets of schools that do not teach the sufficient core subjects, thus filling the state attorney’s order from six years ago, which was not implemented till now.”

Sunday’s asifa was also attended by United Torah Judaism’s Knesset members, except for Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman. Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv wrote a letter comparing Sa’ar’s moves to those of the Polish authorities in pre-World War II Europe.

At the end of the session, a kol koreh were drafted, stating that “Only Torah sages have the authority to determine the course of study in the Talmudei Torah and all other educational institutions… Talmud Torah principals should not agree to any external supervision over the curriculum… or any other thing that would mar the independence of the pure education they are charged with.”

“Now everyone – in the courts, Education Ministry and government – heard that the Torah sages have instructed us not to change anything in the charedi education system,” MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, said.

The focus of the gedolim‘s concern is the Liba Plan (The Israel National Task Force to Advance Education Plan), ratified as law in 2005, formulated to emend two social ills – first, Israel’s disastrous educational system where less than fifty percent of 12th grade pupils matriculate, and second, the multiplicity of sectors and trends in Israeli education. The plan’s solutions to both problems clash harshly with the ideals of Torah education.

First, the Liba Plan has outlined a mandatory core curriculum that includes seven subjects: languages, math, science and technology, Jewish or Arab/Druze heritage, social studies, arts and physical education, and personal and social skills. Government funding would be in accordance with an institution’s implementation of the plan. This contradicts the Torah ideal of dedicating almost all a youngster’s time to Torah study.

 Another goal of the plan is to mold Israelis into one indivisible whole as clearly stated in the official summary of its conclusions: “In its goals and actions, the education system should reflect the essence of the general and national culture for which the society strives, so that the citizens of the future will have both cultural depth as individuals and a shared intellectual world. Education is the basis for molding citizens and for imparting humanistic and democratic values: cooperation and social solidarity, consideration for others and contribution to others, justice, and equal rights.”

The gedolim have rejected the implementation of the Liba Plan, even if it leads to financial loss. Saar has now announced that he intends to enforce the Liba Plan on chadorim and will hire a number of new inspectors to check up on chadorim. Israel’s Supreme Court is presently deliberating whether to obligate all government-funded institutions to conform with the Liba Plan, including yeshiva ketanos, which until now were entirely exempt of its dictates.

{Yair Israel}


  1. You guys still don’t get it, do you? Most Israelis, and certainly almost all Jews in Chutz La’Aretz don’t care if you want to teach that 4 plus 4 is 65!!! If you want to permanently condemn them to ignorance and poverty, that’s your business – JUST DONT TAKE MY MONEY TO DO IT!! I wont make you spend money on the madras’ teaching, and you dont make me spend money on teaching Yossei the world is flat, DEAL?!

  2. These edicts were given in Europe also, some yeshivos (Telshe)figured out how to comply and others did differently. What’s the big tumult?

  3. I don’t get it. They aren’t saying you CAN’T teach whatever they want, they are saying you can’t get State money for doing so?

    This isn’t a threat to anything (except the bottom line)

  4. is EVERYTHING secular really treif? Can’t there be some sort of negotiations as to what can and cannot be taught? Life skills, which includes reading, writing,arithmatic and others, are needed to function.

  5. – dk

    The question isn’t if we like it or not, the question is if it’s permitted or not? and the answer is.. (since we are yiddishe kinder who wants & hope to stay yiddish)”NO”. Time to wake up brider.

  6. Whose money do you think the Education ministry controls?? It’s the taxpers’ money!! Unlike the US, in Israel, taxpayers don’t have to pay twice for their kids’ education. (Once through taxes and once to pay private school fees. THAT is unsustainable!!)

  7. “Once through taxes and once to pay private school fees. THAT is unsustainable!!)”
    Good point. But American Jews work or own businesses, so they can afford it, to some extent.

    “The question isn’t if we like it or not, the question is if it’s permitted or not? and the answer is.. (since we are yiddishe kinder who wants & hope to stay yiddish)”NO”. Time to wake up brider.”
    The answer is…yes, of course it’s permitted. Time to wake up yourselves, bruder.


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