אריה ארליך
Aryeh Erlich
Ultra-Orthodox youths in school in Beitar Illit

Ultra-Orthodox are weighing education against dangers of coronavirus

Opinion: While Haredi sector's decision to reopen schools in violation of the law deserves condemnation, some parents believed that not sending their children back to school will have catastrophic long-term implications for their future

Aryeh Erlich |
Published: 10.26.20 , 23:45
The criticism of those in the ultra-Orthodox sector who decided to reopen the education system without coordination with the government and in violation of the law, is more than fair.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • We, in the Haredi public, have no right to complain regarding said critique, we have absolutely earned it.
    ביתר עיליתביתר עילית
    Ultra-Orthodox youths in school in Beitar Illit
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    The illegal reopening of several Haredi educational institutions was an extreme step that explicitly disregarded the law and the state’s health regulations amid the pandemic.
    When someone, anyone, disrespects the law, the least the perpetrator can do is to accept the criticism - no matter how harsh it may be - and not to expect the media to cuddle and embrace your feelings despite the transgression.
    This time, the criticism, which also came from those not usually hostile toward the Haredi sector, was justified and correct.
    Why would any parent, who is stuck at home with children, think it's fair that they cannot send their kids to school, while the ultra-Orthodox are sending their children out to study en masse?
    מחאת הורים על סגירת גני הילדיםמחאת הורים על סגירת גני הילדים
    Parents in Tel Aviv protesting against the shuttering of kindergartens during the closure
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    The decision to reopen some schools in the sector came at the behest of the sector’s spiritual leaders. Not all of them mind you. Most of the ultra-Orthodox education system actually remains shuttered.
    Those who decided to erroneously open the schools did so while they were fully aware of the criticism it will draw. They understood the implications of such a move and took into account the damage it could do to the sector’s image. Nevertheless, they took the plunge and reopened, believing the damage to their children’s education will be far greater.
    They believed the damage that could be done to their children's’ education would have long-term catastrophic consequences and that cannot be underestimated.
    With no academic progress and no Torah studies, which are no less important than oxygen for Haredi youths, the young generation will simply wither like an unattended seedling.
    ילדים הולכים ל בית ספר בערים אדומותילדים הולכים ל בית ספר בערים אדומות
    Ultra-Orthodox students going to school in Jerusalem (L) and Beitar Illit in violation of the law
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom, Moshe Mizrahi)
    The damage that a lack of guidance and boredom can do is colossal, as far as the sector is concerned. After all, according to our smartest sages “idleness leads to boredom and boredom leads to sin.”
    And while remote studies - which I know are less than an ideal solution - are offered for the students in the general population, for the Ultra-Orthodox it is not a solution at all.
    I do not mean to imply that education is more important to the Haredi population than to others, but if there is something we can all agree on, is that education is important to all, Haredi, religious and secular alike.
    Still, that is why some among the ultra-Orthodox have made the unusual decision to disregard the law, and that is why they should know how to deal with the criticism brought on by their decision.
    אר שלו ושחראר שלו ושחר
    A family trying to utilize remote studies amid the pandemic
    The prevalent reality cannot be disputed: For almost eight months now, parents all across Israel have seen their children wither in absolute idleness.
    The government - which I wholeheartedly believe is committed to reducing the infection rate and saving lives - has shut down the education system without announcing when the system is expected to reopen, while the parents are expected to cope without asking questions.
    I am not an epidemiologist and therefore will not go into the question of risks, and how contagious children under the age of 12 are. I am also not a cabinet member who is exposed to the truth and knows the full risks of reopening schools.
    What I am is a parent, who, just like any other parent - secular, ultra-Orthodox, religious or Arab - understands that simply shutting down the education system for months on end is not a viable, long-term solution.
    Now is the time for a reasonable outline that will ensure the educational future of millions of children, be it state education, state-religious education, or ultra-Orthodox education.
    A child, every child, deserves education and care.

    Talkbacks for this article 0