Photo: Gil Yohanan
Rabbi Benny Lau
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: Avigail Uzi
Rabbi Avi Gisser
Photo: Avigail Uzi

Rabbis call for revival of traditional schooling

Religious leaders criticize state-religious education for being unable to prevent students from leaving. Rabbi Benny Lau: System created divisive network since it did not accept diversity of strengthening orthodoxy

“Ethnic segregation is a tragedy, a bone of contention; the system isolating itself is an embarrassment,” Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau said Wednesday as he addressed growing amount of private religious schools and the weakening of state-religious education.


He called upon parents and educators to act responsibly towards weak students and strengthen state-religious education.


Rabbi Lau made these comments at a conference on “educational segregation and its price” which took place Wednesday night and was brought to light by the religious Zionist movement Ne'emanei Torah vaAvodah and by Bema'aglei Tzedek, a youth-driven NGO integrating Jewish values and social justice to effect meaningful change in Israeli society.


“We need to create a leadership for all of Israel. Can we create this kind of leadership in closed institutions?”


The rabbi fervently continued, saying, “We can’t give up on any child, and not on those with difficulties either.”


'Segregation is an original sin'

However, he actually blamed the situation on the state-religious schools and said, “The state-religious system created this divisive network since it did not accept the diversity of strengthening the orthodoxy and that shattered its growth.


“Segregation is an original sin and today we are eating its unripe fruits.”


Rabbi Lau said that when he arrived with his family in Jerusalem he asked to enroll his children in the state-religious school system and the principal told him, “parents like you don’t send (their children) here but rather to orthodox schools.”


“At that moment I understood that my children will not study under this woman and not for the reason mentioned,” said the disgruntled rabbi.


Rabbi Avi Gisser who is the chairman of the state-religious education council and a candidate for the Education Ministry’s position of director of Religious Education Administration also spoke at the conference.


He asked to calm the parents who fear the exaggerated intervention of the government in the state-religious education system and said, “The solution is the creation of the state-religious education council, which will be the sole authority in hiring teachers.


“This is the best defense in the face of secular coercion,” said Rabbi Gisser. He added that “nowadays, school principals determine most things. We are living in a type of privatization and we can’t compel the principals to do anything.”


He called upon the parents to send their children to the state-religious school system and strengthen these institutions.


'Orthodox students not being depraved'

The rabbi explained that “heterogeneity has big advantages. The impulse of discrimination, segregation and isolationism must not increase. We want to pay the price for sitting with the rest of Israel.”


Former Bnei Akiva Secretary-General Dr. Amnon Shapira who sat in the audience rejected the claims that orthodox students are being, “depraved” in the in the state-religious system.


Shapira also said, “There is also a flipside to the coin. The statistics reveal that the percentage of secularization is less than the percentage of traditional students who become religious.


“For every child that we “lose” to the (secular) public we gain 1.2 or 1.3 children. So overall, we will only gain from the strengthening of the state-religious school system,” he added.


פרסום ראשון: 09.19.08, 08:23
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