Friday, June 18, 2010

The Girls School in Emanuel, Another Side of The Story

Hat tip: HL

I must admit that I, too, like many found myself believing the media's reports about the girls school in the Chareidi Samaria town, Emanuel.  Then a friend fowarded these two stories to me from some chareidi friends of his.  I'm posting them with their permission.

First article
The story with Emanuel is a long one...

Emanuel is home to a community of Slonimers and a community of Sefardim - the majority of which are not religious.

There is only one elementary school for girls there -the Beit Yaakov in controversy. Until this law suit came into being, the school had 2 tracks -the religious track which serviced the religious girls i.e. the Slonimers and a handfull of Sefardi girls who are religious - and the non-religious track which serviced the non-religious girls - all of them Sefardim. Both tracks were quite happy with this arrangement.

Mr. Lelom, who receives funding from a extreme left anti-chareidi organization, has no personal interest in Emanuel, as he does not live there nor do his family members. His law suit is motivated by an agenda to vilify charedim as racists, and not at all to promote the interests of the Sefardim in Emanuel. 80% of the parents from the non-religious track signed a petition to stop the lawsuit because they are happy to keep their daughters 'segregated'. The teaching staff for both tracks of the Beit Yaakov consisted of Slonimer mothers - those now going to jail - and so Lelom's victory has left the 'vicitimized' Sefardi girls with no teachers and has done nothing to help their education.

When this lawsuit began, the Slonimer parents consulted with the Slonimer Rebbe who advised them against mixing the tracks and bringing their daughters into contact with mixed dancing, television, treife food, etc etc. The parents sent a request to the bagatz to allow them to explain their position. This request was ignored, and until 1 1/2 months ago, all of the proceedings were based off of information provided by Mr. Lelom.

In the meantime, they took their daughters out of school, and started 'home schooling' them.

The week before Lag B'Omer, the Slonimer parents were subpoenaed to court to deal with their 'contempt of court' for not integrating the classes (and for not sending their daughters to a recognized school).

In court, the parents explained that their decision to keep the classes separate was not racist - in fact there were Sefardi girls in the religious class! - it was merely a religious matter. One track preferred a sheltered religious approach to education, and the other did not.

(One parent - a ZAKA volunteer - went further and said that racism is obviously not part of their lives - when he 'cleans up' after a bombing he cleans up dark skin with the same broken heart that he cleans up white skin.)

The court was taken aback by hearing this 'new' information and ordered a compromise - that they create an acceptance board with members agreed to by both parties, kick all the girls out of school, re-accept them and place them in an appropriate track via this acceptance board.

Lelom did not accept this compromise. And so the parents were again ordered to send their girls to Beit Yaakov and mix the classes.

Despite the fines and threat of jailing, the parents adhered to the Slonimer Rebbe's advice. They were told that the court would not oppose them if they decided to send their daughters to school outside of Emanuel. However, when they arranged for their daughters to attend a chassidish Beis Yaakov in Bnei Brak - the misrad hachinuch threatened to close the school down if they accepted the girls from Emanuel. The court would not allow the Slonimers to open a private school in Emanuel either.

The rest of the Charedi world has joined the Slonimers in this because this case is setting a precedent for the bagatz* (who's wisdom comes from where? This country does not even have a constitution that they can claim to base their decisions on!) to coerce parents in issues regarding the education of their children. The protest today, and the parents' willingness to go to jail, is meant to demonstrate that we chareidim intend to educate our children in the way we chose - under the guidance of our gedolim and NOT under the coercion of the bagatz. And that we chareidim are willing to make sacrifices to uphold our freedom of religion - freedom to practice Torah true Judaism in this country that calls itself Jewish.

The judge (the only Sefardi judge on the bagatz - hmmm... sounds kind of racist....) stated clearly that he sees no reason why a Rabbi's opinion should have any baring once he has made a ruling. And he compared this to the 'separate but equal' and desegragation struggles in the US 50 years ago.
The Slonimers have stated clearly that they answer to G-d alone (not to some arrogant man who believes in judicial activism), and compared this to the sacrifice and triumph of the Chashmonaim when the Greeks tried to undermine their Judaism.

We should be zoche to see Hashem's name sanctified, and raise our children to give Him nachas!

bagatz* an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court

Second article
...I thought I would share with you my thoughts and experiences from today as one of the participants in the ma'amad kidush hashem that took place today in Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim.

The smallest estimate of total participants that I heard was 300,000, though I have heard people say larger numbers (we'll have to wait to hear the polices official estimates). The Emanuel parents started in Bnei Brak, and continued in Yerushalayim, on their way to turn themselves in to the police. In light of the great z'chus that they have, to be persecuted for their Judaism, the Slonimer Rebbe ruled that they would walk to prison in full shabbos attire, shtreimel and all, with their heads held high. From where I joined them in Yerushalayim, we started with tehilim, avinu malkeinu, slichos, shma yisroel, hashem melech... etc.

After that Rav Elyashiv's gabbai spoke, followed by Rav David Batzri, a sephardi mekubel. In his speech he said that there has never been any discrimination against Sephardim amongst Torah Observant Jews. All Torah Observant Jews learn the Rambam together with Tosfos, the Beis Yosef with the Rema, the Arizal with Baal HaTanya, and the Mishnah Brurah together with the Ben Ish Chai. He said that discrimination against Sephardim was introduced by the Secular Zionists when they took the yaldei teheran and cut off their peyot and forced upon them the gods of secularism.

After that, one of the parents spoke, Rav Almaliach, a sephardi father who is right now starting his two week sentence for discriminating against sephardim. He told over his conversation with the judge in court before lag b'omer. He said to the Shofet, show me one Sephardi girl who applied to the Chassidic track and was turned down, and I will fight to have the school closed down. Since there was not once any such girl, the Shofet had to admit his error, so he asked Rav Almaliach, where have you been all this time? To which he replied, I filed a petition to be added as a defendant to this case from the beginning, and that petition was denied. And now the Shofet has sent him to prison without bothering to answer any of the legal arguments made by the parents lawyers (like you might expect from a tribunal in Communist Russia). Rav Almaliach went on to tell the world the statistical truth, that 30% of the 43 families of the Chassidic track are Sephardim, and many of them ba'alei Tshuvah.

From there, the parade started to the police station, Jews from all the different shades of skin and affiliations, Rabbanim and Admorim, accompanying the parents as they were mekadesh shem shamayim b'rabim. When we arrived at the police station, the Slonimer Rebbe was allowed past the barriers, as he was to personally accompany each of the prisoners in to custody. The Karliner Rebbe, although he did not have prior clearance to do the same, climbed on the front of his car and jumped over the barrier, after which the police allowed him to stay there. Then the parents started through the crowds, carried on others shoulders, one chossid with one sephardi, taking along also their sons. As they were carried through the crowd, the chossid would start Shma Yisroel, and after the crowd answered, the Sephardi started Hashem Melech. After the Chossid led the crowd in Hashem hu ha'elokim, the sephardi led ana hashem hoshiya na. After those two prisoners were taken into custody amongst very loud applause, the next set of parents started making their way, in the same fashion. If this kidush hashem didn't show our misguided secular brothers (and misguided people who happen to not be secular like Mr. Lalom), that G-d's people is One Indivisible people, then they must be blind to the truth.

Once the prisoners have been processed in the police station and are ready to be transported to the prison in Ramlah, the Slonimer Rebbe will with G-d's help be traveling behind their transport until the gate of the prison.

I leave you with the words of the Navi, which is the slogan of the parents triumph, "Plan a conspiracy and it will be annulled, speak your piece and it shall not stand, ki Emanuel, for G-d is with US."


yoni said...

thanks, batya, interesting and informative perspectives. i'm not going to give my opinion here, but i would like to advise you, as per your preamble, not to fall into the trap of calling this a conflict between the innocent haredi community and the evil secular media and courts. there really are 2 sides to this issue, and i'm glad to see any reasonable argument from either one, but it's not as simple as the direction you appear to be leaning.

there's plenty of hatred to go around between haredim and the media/ courts, and also (still) between ashkenazim and sefardim, unfortunately. we have to look past these "lines of engagement" to see what's really going on here.

i'll say this much: anyone who says the courts and the media don't have it in for the religious is lying or blind. and anyone wo says there is no anti-mizrachi racism among the hassidishe/haredi-ashkenazi community is equally mistaken.

Anonymous said...

Fact of the matter is that between 27% to 30% of the girls enrolled in this school, not including the children who were segregated, are Sefaradim.

And, as reported, among the fathers hauled off to jail yesterday were Sefaradim, who also refuse to comply with Israel's tyrannical Supreme Court.

And therein is the problem: the court. These goons threaten parents (not the school administrative staff) with imprisonment because the judges "know" how our children need to be educated.

The appropriate place for Beinish, Levy and the lot of them is behind bars, where they should rot. They have stolen from the people and its government the final legislative powers and have implemented decisions which have been hypocritical to the court's own prior pronouncements, as well as endangering individuals and the country as a whole in our defense against our enemies.

The government of Israel needs to grow a pair and dismantle the court, toss its judges away, never to serve in a public position again and rebuild the court and define its tasks and limits.

Also in the news: Shneur Heshin, High Court Judge Mishael Heshin's son, killed in hit and run. Hakol Be'dei Shamayim.

In other news: Mother from Emmanuel who refused jail gives birth.

yoni said...

shy guy, i understand and appreciate your perspective on the issue, but does it really have to involve dancing on the blood of heshin's son? this is just crass. "hakol b'yadei shamayim" works both ways.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Hakol Be'dei Shamayim works both ways.

Crass? Yeh. But after hearing Cheshin time and time again on every interview he's given besmirching everything Jewish in this country and pontificating about his superior intellect versus us little people, I feel like serving a shot of crass. So I did.

Batya said...

What really shook me up about the story is that there is no other girls elementary school. Somehow non-chareidi families and even non-shomrei ended up in Emanuel, and the local authorities never found a solution to the problem of suitable educational frameworks.

The Shiloh school, State Torani Religious found itself with non-religious and even non-Jewish kids from mixed Eli a number of years ago. If I'm not mistaken the children were eventually transferred to Ariel.

Anonymous said...

Non-Jewish kids.

Watch this space.

Batya said...

Eli's open, accept anyone policy made life very difficult for us.

Rabbi Michael Tzadok said...

I am sorry but the stories posted there are simply not true.


Rav Yaakov Yosef was a part of this, because his grandchildren were not accecpted.

As for Rav Batzri, I can garantee you that he was not at the rally, as I was learning by him. Also his grandchildren were also refused.

Even Rav Ovadia Yosef agrees that it was discrimination, he just disagrees on how to handle it.

Anonymous said...

Let's examine this:

Rav Yaakov Yosef was a part of this, because his grandchildren were not accepted.

First of all, the JPost article you linked to says nothing about Rav Yosef's grandchildren being rejected. They were threatened.

Why were they threatened? Not that it's justified but you can get a big hint by what Rav Ovadya Yosef just pronounced this past Shabbat.

Why were some children not accepted when other Sefaradi girls were? Was it because of the school's excessive standards, which many of these children and their families did not meet or was it because they were Sefaradi?

I suggest everyone read Dror Ben Yemini's article to get the facts straight:

גזענות או צביעות

Batya said...

shy, mekubal, work it out between yourselves. I posted this to give exposure to what most people didn't read anyplace else.

I'm no expert in the issue.

yitz said...

It's very interesting that a whole huge part of Israeli society screams, "Medinat Chok," ranting about the "rule of law," while at the same time imprisoning people without a trial! Perhaps the Chareidi side DOES need to be heard, and thanks Batya for presenting some of it!

Anonymous said...

Yitz, you can imprison people without trial in most normal countries, when the person is in contempt of a court order.

In addition, people accused of crimes are almost always arrested. What is new here?

The problem is that such a court order was issued in the first place. Read:

Supreme Court Charged with Illegally Sending Parents to Jail

Now here's a question: can a supreme court justice be tried, found guilty and thrown into jail for illegally throwing dozens of people into jail? Or at least pay restitution for false imprisonment?

Batya said...

Contact, if you're willing to use your name, contact Israel Movement for Quality in Government.

Esser Agaroth said...

The Real Issue Behind the Emmanuel School Protests

Anonymous said...

Thanks, BY.

Batya said...

Ya'aqov, interesting spin.

josh said...

Batya, I confirm you've been had. While the version you brought did seem to be the most credible version so far, there is one 'small' itsy bitsy flaw.

I just spoke to a black-hat, frum Sefaradi from Emmanuel who teaches in a local evening kollel and asked him if in fact this was an issue with non-religious children, mixed dancing, etc... and he looked at me and said, do I look non-religious?? Do you think my kids are non-religious?

He confirmed what I had thought I knew until I read the loshon hara written in this article you posted. There are no non-religious families in Emmanuel, and there are in fact four girls schools, including a Habad. The girls were removed from school only a month ago, and sent daily to makeshift school in Bnei Brak. These Sefardim did not want to send their kids to the Slonim school either.

Batya said...

josh, I'm trying to get responses form the writers.

Anonymous said...

Wanna be even more confused? Read this morning's news:

JPost: Beit din sides with High Court

INN: Rabbis on Emanuel: Withdraw the Lawsuit, Integrate the School

Well, that was a great Chilul Hashem while it lasted!

Batya said...

Shy, nothing new. We are our own worst enemies.

Anonymous said...

And the chilul Hashem continues.

Anonymous said...

I have a question - since when does Chareidi Beit Yaakov have a non-religious branch?

In any case, I recommend reading the following where Rav Laloum states that girls in the "so-called" non-religious section have brothers in ashkenazi talmudei Torah in Immanuel, which doesn't make sense if the families are not religious.

Batya said...

Part 1
Response by the article's writer, who is not me:

First, I would just like to explain that this is why I was hesitant to submit this article from the beginning. I didn't and don't feel that the decisions made by people of far greater Torah wisdom than us need to be explained, rationalized, or justified. The Slonimer Rebbe, in particular, is not one to look for public approval or worry about his image. I also knew that anyone who wants to believe the chareidim to be at fault (or worse) will continue to do so no matter what is written - it's called bigotry. An email like this was meant for people like you Hillel - people with genuine ahavas yisrael who merely seek to understand. The only reason I agreed to 'let it go to press' was because you indicated that many people were misled by negative media, and that publishing it would service many others like you - who genuinely seek to understand. Forgetting to take into account the effects of disparaging comments - which undercut whatever enlightenment / understanding one may have felt until scrolling down to read them, I thought there was some toeles - a chance of curbing some sinas chinam - in making the email public.

I can respond to some of these comments. But I guarantee that those who wrote them will bounce back with some other accusation of falsehood.

In response to the individual who claims that Rav Batzri was not at the protest... what can I tell you? I saw and heard him with my own eyes and ears (as did thousands of others)! He was there. And he spoke in support of the chareidi position that the Israeli High Court cannot be the judge as to how our children should be educated. He accused them (the Secular Zionists) of years ago initiating the unfortunate rift that exists between Sefardi and Ashkenazi communities today, by forcibly creating 'non-religious' Sefardim - something that did not exist until that point.

You contend that Yakov Yosef's grandchildren were not accepted - if this is even true, please clarify the grounds for their rejection. I dare say it had nothing to do with the color of their skin. This is not the first time Rav Ovadia has come out in opposition to the choices his son has made. I personally think you are basing your accusations on false rumors.

Batya said...

part 2

In response to Josh -

I apologize for my error about the number of schools in Emanuel. I did not know that there was also a Chabad school. I cannot confirm the existence of the other 2. The number of schools, however, does not change the reality of what happened at the Beit Yaakov in controversy.

And your facts about the girls' schooling throughout the controversy are incorrect. They were never in a makeshift school in Bnei Brak. The girls were home-schooled as a group at a private residence in Emanuel for most of this school year. There was an attempt to send them to a Belz school in Bnei Brak when the parents were fined for not sending their daughters to a recognized school. That arrangement did not last long, as the Misrad Hachinuch threatened to close the Belzer school down for accepting the Emanuel girls.

Please understand that the Chassidish approach to education (whether you agree with it or not) places a heavy emphasis on sheltering and limiting exposure. The Slonimer parents in that Beit Yaakov as well as the Sefardi families who enrolled their daughters in the controversial track do not want their daughters exposed to a lack of Torah observance. They are willing to go to jail to ensure this.

In response to your comment that asserts that there are no non-religious in Emanuel- Let's ponder for a moment the definition of religious. A Slonimer Chasid will tell you that religious means keeping Shabbos, following the guidelines of Tznius, and ascribing to the values promoted by Torah leaders. The only criteria for acceptance to the aforementioned track was that the parents sign a contract that the above was true of their home; i.e. there would be no smoking in the home on Shabbos, that there would be no television in the home, that there would be no mixed dancing etc. Whoever chose to live up to these standards was accepted without hesitation. I personally heard Meir Elmaliach - a Sefardi father presently in jail - reiterate (in front of thousands of people) something that he told the judges in court: that no one who WANTED to take those stringencies upon himself was ever rejected.

Batya said...

part 3

Perhaps there are no secular people in Emanuel - It is a common phenomenon in this country for people to feel affiliated with the religious, while they themselves do not practice. These people are clearly not secular. But are they religious if they smoke on Shabbos?

Did your black hat friend tell you that his daughter was not accepted despite his agreement to conform to the ('excessive', if you wish) standards of the Chassidish track? Your description of his response is ambiguous at best. Did he actually answer you about mixed dancing and televisions? Just because he wears a black hat does not mean that he ascribes to the same no-exposure policy of chassidish education. (Let's not judge by external appearances here.)
I did not understand your meaning when you wrote the 'These Sefardim did not want to send their kids to the Slonim school either.' If you meant that this friend of yours chose not to send his daughters to that school - and is therefore not involved - is he in a position to report his opinions to you as facts about the school's internal affairs?

I understand that not everyone will agree on demanding strict religious adherence as qualifications for acceptance to a school. You can debate that issue as much as you want. But that is not the issue here. The issue here is that whether to educate children with the above outlook is a choice that belongs to the parents. Not the Israeli government. And (whether you agree with it or not) it is not racism.

My knowledge of the most current developments is this: When Rav Ovadia announced that those who behave as Mr. Laloum did by involving secular authorities do not have entrance to the world to come, Mr. Laloum opted to move his law suit from the secular courts to a regular din Torah. The Din Torah will decide whether there is any racism involved here, and how it should be handled. Reports that the Beis Din's initial ruling included integrating the classes for the rest of the school year, and that it supported the bagatz's findings of racism in the school policy are absolutely false. If you wish to see a copy of the Beis Din's latest ruling on the case, there is a copy posted here:

Please do not think that I wish to whitewash any racist behavior against Sefardim that has occurred elsewhere. I feel VERY strongly the need for Jews to recognize that if they serve G-d, then they respect and love anyone else who serves Him as well. If they cannot do this, then they are obviously serving their own ego under the disguise of religiousity. I am, however, confident that there was no racism involved in Emanuel. Watching all shades of religious Jews together at the protest last Thursday was absolutely beautiful. I cannot begin to describe the elation I felt when the (soon-to-be) incarcerated Sefardi/Ashkenazi parents led the crowd in accepting G-d's sovereignty TOGETHER. I ended my first email with hopes of seeing G-d's name sanctified- those hopes where fulfilled at that protest, without a doubt. Halevai Vaiteir!

Again, I apologize for my mistake about the number of schools in Emanuel. I am very sorry for printing something that was not accurate.

It is fine with me to post this on both of the blogs where the original article appeared - if you wish. Everything I have written is sincere and true. I would prefer not to waste any more time replying to narrow-minded comments.

Thanks - tizku lemitzvos!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the comments, but I have one response to the issue described, and another minor response to one of the comments made. As to the problem with the schools: Having no children in Israel schools, I don't have a lot of knowledge about them. But it's my understanding that it's the system to have separate schools for religious and non-religious. In our town, we have the secular schools and the religious ones. Some girls have to travel to Jerusalem to attend a chosen religious school, but otherwise we seem to have enough choice for everyone to be happy. I also learned the same scenario in other towns I visited. So I'm mystified why this has come to a legal battle with people going to jail etc. It makes no sense.

The minor comment is in response to one of the comments that most countries have potential jail sentences for those who are in contempt of court. That doesn't seem to be true in practice in the US, at least in non-criminal courts. In family court, a mother refused to comply with a court order to take her daughter for visits with her father. She was clearly in contempt,but the lawyer said that the father would have to go to court to charge her with contempt. That's ridiculous- the non-custodial parent has already spent a fortune on lawyers and is pretty tired of court etc. So maybe the courts in criminal cases require accountability and punish those in contempt, but in the civil system and huge family court system this doesn't seem to be the case in the US. They apparently can ignore a contempt situation - so how many Americans get away with being in contempt of court, and is it a meaningless charge?

Batya said...

This is an old blog post. So chances are that it's very out of date.