MK Ravitz: Positive discrimination needed in religious schools
United Torah Judaism MK answers questions as to why Sephardic ultra-Orthodox children prefer Ashkenazi schools. He opposes over-simplification of issue by saying, ‘There is definitely a difference between Ashkenazim and Sephardim’ in haredi community, but believes a solution exists
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court demanded that the Beit Yaakov school in the Emanuel Local Council change its code of conduct and erase any apparent discriminatory signs.
Due to the ongoing coverage of this phenomenon, Ynet spoke to MK Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism), who comes from the world of education and who served as the deputy education minister.
Ravitz told Ynet that “the ethnic discrimination stems first and foremost from the desire to maintain the school’s educational atmosphere, which Sephardic parents are also interested in maintaining.
‘Haredi schools are educational institutions’
Ravitz explained that “the secular public does not understand that in the haredi public, school is not just a place in which you study and one plus one equals two. The haredi school is what everyone thought should exist. It is an educational institution.”
Moreover, the MK said, “We educate on internal and external values and there are differences amongst the different ethnic groups.
“Even amongst the Ashkenazis, there is a great distinction between the ethnicities. A person who enters a Hasidic school will not see an inkling of a child from an alternative Hasidic group. Because then, what songs will be sung? Which leaders will they follow? The master of Gur or the master of Vizhnitz?”
He opposed the over-simplification, saying, “There is definitely a difference between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. It is really simple to come and say you need to accept everyone, but that’s not the way it is.”
In actuality, “since there is a very large population of boys and girls from Sephardic homes who within a short period of time became interested in studying with Ashkenazim, there are schools that were swarmed with Sephardic students during admissions period.
“Thus, absurdly, the Sephardic students did not want to attend those schools anymore because the majority turned Sephardic within a short period of time.”
‘They think Ashkenazi education is better'
Supporting the proactive approach Ravitz said, “If we don’t ignore the problem but rather assess it in a real manner and not in the way that bleeding hearts present it, it is likely that people who are actually like me, who have been interested in mixing Ashkenazim and Sephardim to begin with, will be compelled to understand that we must maintain a certain balance in order to keep those institutions attractive next year as well.”
When asked why he thinks Sephardic children do not want to study at their schools, he said, “They want an Ashkenazi education because they think that an Ashkenazi education is more successful.”
Moreover, Ravitz believes that the proof is in the pudding and found in the schools Shas leaders choose for their children.
“Shas MKs are successful in sending their children to whichever school they want due to their political status. But they don’t want to send their children to a school that won’t be successful in maintaining the balance between Ashkenazim and Sephardim."
According to Ravitz, children should not be involved in finding this balance. He believes that the real solution is positive discrimination in favor of the Sephardic institutions.
“Bonuses need to be given to schools that accept a larger percentage of the opposite ethnicity…I am for this kind of favoritism so that Sephardim will stop this stupid race to study with Ashkenazim.
"Why not the opposite? We need to find a real solution and not run to be admitted to schools that do or don’t want to accept children to school…”