The haredi-controlled city of Jerusalem is under a court order to end Ashkenazi haredi discrimination against Sefardic girls. These girls are regularly denied spots in top seminaries because of their ancestry – and often skin color. So, Jerusalem's haredi mayor is implementing a 'fix" for the problem – one that allows the discrimination to continue. Applicants to all city schools will first take a standardized test, which will be anonymous. Students will be assigned numbers, and only their numbers will appear on the tests results. But then comes phase two of the admissions process. Ha'aretz reports:
In contrast with the test phase, during the interview the identity of the applicant will be revealed. She will be reviewed by the admissions panel, whose members will reserve the right to disqualify her according to such requirements as "standpoint," mental capacity, and personality - often codenames for disguised discrimination. Additionally, headmasters will reserve the right to decide on their degree of reliance on test grades in determining the suitability of applicants.
These regulations might serve as loopholes for the continuation of discrimination against Sephardic students in some of the established Jerusalem seminars. This would fly in the face of the Jerusalem court's ruling last April, following a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, stating that the municipality must act to halt discrimination against Sephardim in the seminars.
Baruch Helfgot, acting director of the Jerusalem municipality ultra-Orthodox education branch, claims the resolution will indeed put an end to the affair. "We and the seminar headmasters wish to avoid these endless arguments with parents over why one applicant or another was not admitted," he says.
However, Helfgot admits that the municipality has no means of enforcing the regulation in seminars. "As private institutions, we have partial control over them," he says.
Critics refer to the new regulation as nothing more than a facade that will only serve to force the headmasters to come up with more elaborate excuses for practicing discrimination. Yoav Lalum, founder of the movement against sectarian discrimination in the ultra-Orthodox education system, says he fears the initiative's sole function is to "portray the municipality as doing something about the court's verdict."
He goes own to maintain that the phenomenon exists also in the elementary ultra-Orthodox school system, over which the city of Jerusalem enjoys full jurisdiction. He claims that this year alone, 113 Sephardic schoolgirls have been rejected by various schools because of their ancestry.
That's right. Seminaries can still bar a girl because they don't like her. In other words, darkies need not apply.
You know those endless fundraising appeals you get? The ones with hoary old white bearded rabbis pictures plastered all over them? Don't send them any money until they can prove they do not support, tolerate or endorse discrimination against Sefardim. Better yet, just refuse to send them any money, period.