Israel’s Education Ministry has cancelled the registrations of all students in the new Beit Yaakov high school seminary in the haredi city of Elad because the school discriminated against Sefardi girls who wanted to enroll.
Ashkenazi-Run Haredi Girls School Caught Excluding Sefardim, Government Steps In
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Education Ministry has cancelled the registrations of all students in the new Beit Yaakov high school seminary in the haredi city of Elad because the school discriminated against Sefardi girls who wanted to enroll, Ynet reported.
The step, called “unusual” and a “dramatic decision” by the paper, was taken after the Education Ministry that all Ashkenazi candidates were admitted while only a much smaller percentage of Sefardim were. 119 girls applied to the haredi school. 30 were admitted – 83% of them Ashkenazi.
The Education Ministry reportedly plans to closely supervise the the new admission process that will now take place to try to guarantee equal treatment for all applicants to the school, regardless of ethnicity.
After conducting a hearing into the school’s principal’s conduct regarding the admissions, the Education Ministry is also reportedly examining the possibility of forcing the school to fire the principal.
"We promised to show zero tolerance towards discrimination, and we are standing by our word. It's very important that on the one hand, the educational institutions' principals understand that we mean what we say, and on the other hand, that the parents know they can come to us and complain in cases of ethnic or other discrimination, and we will take care of their complaint devotedly,” the Education Ministry reportedly said.
Attorney Yoav Laloum of the Noar Kahalacha nonprofit led a previous fight to stop the widespread exclusion of Sefardi girls from haredi schools funded by the government and controlled by Ashkenazim.
While Laloum was largely successful, he received threats – including threats of physical violence – and eventually was forced to step back his activities somewhat, and the issue was largely dormant for close to two years.
But the new Elad case has draw Laloum back into the public fray.
“The Education Ministry took an important step by canceling the faulty and discriminative registration process, in which Sephardic and Ashkenazi girls were registered separately. I call on the ministry to impose significant personal sanctions on this principal who practiced [ethnic] discrimination for everyone to see, and so that no principal will see such criminal discrimination as an insignificant matter,” Laloum reportedly said.
Ashkenazi haredi schools often have quotas and will accept no more than a limited number of Sefardi girls – often no more than 30% of the school's total enrollment.
In other cases, these Ashkenazi haredi girls schools will accept no Sefardi girls at all, or will enroll one or two as tokens.
These schools receive large amounts of government money and have been ordered by the government and the High Court of Justice to stop excluding Sefardim.
Several years ago, one such High Court ruling led to large countrywide protests by Ashkenazi haredi men against the High Court and the government.