"Every community has its principles," Knesset Member Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism) said Thursday. "Religious youths have an unshakable regard for the Torah and the word of God, and one should not combine these principles with those of the secular community. The proposal to establish a secular-religious school system bodes disaster."
On Wednesday the Knesset held the preliminary reading of a bill calling for the establishment of a secular-religious school system, which passed by a majority of 38 to 10.
The bill, proposed by MK Rabbi Michael Melchior (Labor Party) and MK Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu), combines the national schools' values with the Jewish teachings of the religious schools, creating a third optional school system.
The bill determines that the new system will be based on the national school system's values, with additional teachings of Jewish values in an effort to create more tolerance between religious, secular, and conservative communities.
According to the bill, the new system would be added to the national school system through the establishment of a new department for combined education, emulating existing national and religious educational departments. In addition it states that every school in Israel would have the right to choose whether to belong to the new system.
Bridging the gap?Following the vote, MK Melchior remarked, "This is a first for Israel. The establishment of the combined school system is the answer to the split in values that continues to divide Israeli society. The educational revolution we began today will allow this generation to find a common Jewish ground, and to bridge the gap between the secular and religious communities."
MK Tartman added, "Until today combined secular-religious schools only succeeded thanks to donations from parents or overseas funds.
"The bill will create a logical equality in Israel, and the students within the new system will also be able to enjoy benefits from the State. It marks an incredible achievement for us as legislators, and for Israeli citizens that relate to the new system."