The Ashkenazi haredi grammar school Talmud Torah Zichron Gavriel in Zichron Yaakov reopened Wednesday – but without the two Sefardi boys who had earlier been denied admission and then, once finally admitted, were harassed and bullied. The absence of the boys prompted the government and the city to renew efforts to permanently force the school to close. The two boys, brothers, were admitted to the school earlier this year, but only after the government intervened.
Ashkeanzi Haredi Community Allegedly Harasses, Bullies Sefardi Family, Forces Them To Flee City
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Ashkenazi haredi grammar school Talmud Torah Zichron Gavriel in Zichron Yaakov reopened Wednesday, Ha'aretz reported – but without the two Sefardi boys who had earlier been denied admission and then, once finally admitted, were harassed and bullied.
The absence of the boys prompted the government and the city to renew efforts to permanently force the school to close. The two boys, brothers, were admitted to the school earlier this year – but only after the government intervened.
A closure order was finally issued against the school last week after the boys were harassed and bullied at school both by pupils and by staff. But the school was allowed to reopen yesterday after it committed in writing to stop the harassment and discrimination.
But that promise was apparently made only after the boys, their parents and their father’s parents were forced to flee the Israeli city. The family faced withering harassment from the haredi community to tru to force them to leave, and the family was allegedly given a 120,000 shekels ($30,400) bribe by members of the haredi community as a bribe to get them to leave town.
The haredi community claims the harassment and bullying was not done because the boys are Sefardi. Instead, it took place because the family was not considered to be “haredi enough” for the school, in part because the boys' father allegedly uses a 'non-kosher' uncensored cellphone.
A relative insisted anti-Sefardi bigotry was a part of the harassment and discrimination. element As long as Sefardi families “kept their heads down ” there is no harassment, the relative told Ha’aretz. But after a rumor spread that the boy’s father “snitched” to the Ministry of Education, the family was abused and harassed. Graffiti was pained on their home, flowerpots were shattered in their yard, and they were stoned by haredim as they walked in public.
The city, which had agreed to allow the school to reopen after the school’s administration committed in writing to stop the harassment and discrimination, apparently did not know the discrimination and harassment had continued and that the family was bribed and left town.
“I didn’t back down; I waited until I got it in writing that the Haredi community in Zichron and the school they attended was committed to accept this family’s children into the school with no discrimination and without any more of what they’d done to them. I informed the Education Ministry, which was very pleased,” Zichron Ya’akov City Council Chairman Eli Abutbul told Ha’aretz. "[But] If [the boy’s father] did something during the evening or overnight behind the backs of community residents who stood up for him and his family like a reinforced wall, or if the rumors are true that he took money and left the community after everything that we did for them, it reflects very poorly on him,” Abutbul said.
But people familiar with the situation said the family had no choice. It had to leave Zichron Ya’akov.
“[Haredi community leaders and haredi activists] exerted psychological pressure on the family. It was clear they wouldn’t survive [here],” one resident told the paper.
The Ministry of Education said the legal process for getting a more permanent closure order against the school is proceeding.
“A pre-closure warning, as required by law, was sent to the institution yesterday,” the ministry said yesterday.
The school's attorney attacked the ministry and what he claimed are outsiders who inflamed the situation to further their own selfish goals.
“The institution’s administration operated in accordance with the Education Ministry’s instructions throughout the period, and is saddened that outsiders with interests chose to conduct an unrelated campaign through the media and fan the flames on the children’s backs,” the attorney, Smadar Tal-Tabibyan, said.