Two months ago, Shas leaders attempted to solve a crisis of the utmost delicacy: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's granddaughter was not accepted to a prestigious [Lithuanian] religious seminary for girls.
Government ministers and other officials pleaded for the young girl's soul and poured out supplications before the heads of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community, Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman. The principal of the Ashkenazi institution in Jerusalem eventually surrendered, admitting the spiritual leader's 14-year-old granddaughter.
A generation has passed since Sephardim Shomrei Torah (Shas for short) was founded in Jerusalem as an answer to the exclusion of Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) from ultra-Orthodox educational institutions. Since then, the movement has gained a great deal of momentum and has established Sephardic ultra-Orthodox educational institutions all around the country. However, the leadership left the Sephardic revolution to the masses. Members of the "elite" observe Sephardic rabbinical rulings, eat only products that bear the Shas "Beit Yosef" kosher seal, subscribe to the Yom Leyom newspaper and every few years slip the right vote in the ballot box. But they send their children to Ashkenazi religious schools.
The situation does not sit well with the party leadership. A senior member of the party, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity, says that the biggest paradox of the Shas movement is its class-based hierarchy - the fact that parents who do not number among "the princes" or whose children are not excellent students go around "frustrated, in tears, weeping and disgraced." Also grave are the political connections, he says, as exhibited by the story of Yosef's granddaughter.…
The Shas source's children are all being educated at well-regarded Ashkenazi-Lithuanian schools. This detail will not give him away, since all of the Shas leaders, ministers and Knesset members - including Yosef - send their children to the same schools.…
Why is this happening? Because the the Litvish schools are viewed as being more exclusive, more prestigious, than Sefardi schools, even if the educational outcomes are identical.
Worse yet, the Shas leader quoted in the article blames the Ashkenazim for this, even though Shas leadership could put a stop to it immediately by sending their own children to Shas schools. But they won't do it. They want the status more than they want to solve this problem.
This is all about race and class, about passing as white, so to speak, in haredi society.
It is wrong and it is sick.
Read it all here.