Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef commented on the Emmanuel discrimination affair on Saturday night and called on the Sephardi public to attend Sephardi schools. "There are Sephardi schools in Emmanuel, 140 students, and the Sephardim went and petitioned with the High Court about their daughters not being admitted into an Ashkenazi school. Let them go to a Sephardi one! Why the wars?" he said.
During his weekly conclusion of Shabbat sermon, the rabbi said there was a level of racial discrimination in the Ashkenazi educational establishments but stressed that the halacha compels Mizrahim to attend their own special establishments.
"A Sephardi man must enroll his sons into a Sephardi Talmud Torah school to begin with," the rabbi explained.
His statements may suggest criticism on Shas members who send their children to Ashkenazi yeshivot.
"There are various practices, we have our own tradition, why change it? Do the girls who studied with the Ashkenazim know our own practices?! A student who goes there will have an Ashkenazi brain, won't know the Torah!"
Nevertheless, the rabbi stressed that he is grateful for Ashkenazi education, which yielded Torah greats of all affiliations at a time when there were no Sephardi establishments. "We would have been lost had it not been for the independent Torah education."
The rabbi further noted there were more Sephardi yeshiva students than Ashkenazi ones and many Sephardi yeshiva heads, and added, "Why change and introduce a High Court trial involving the seculars?
"Why wage wars and go to the High Court and its judges? It's a matter of Torah. There are rabbis and courts…If there are claims, one should approach a rabbinic court."
Quota for Sephardim
The rabbi also protested the haredi-Ashkenazi racism in school admissions: "There is discrimination, I'm not denying that, to this very day there are Ashkenazi yeshivas with a 20-30% quota for Sephardim. Why?! They won't admit a Sephardi student if it's beyond the quota. That's the situation. The Torah doesn't belong to the Ashkenazim, but to us all!...Are we inferior to them? No, and our Torah is not inferior to their Torah."
The rabbi concluded by calling on the Sephardim to urge their relatives to attend Sephardi establishments. "They won't learn what we teach elsewhere. We have good cantors teaching the Bible's accents, and they don't know our accents" he noted.