Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Teves 5764 - January 14, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Education Ministry Forced to Invite Reform and Conservative Rabbis to Speak in Schools
by Eliezer Rauchberger

Despite staunch opposition by chareidi representatives the Knesset Education and Culture Committee, headed by MK Ilan Shalgi (Shinui), reached a decision Monday to require the Education Ministry to carry out the Shenhar Report, which calls for teaching Judaism in a pluralistic spirit by giving expressing to all "streams" of Judaism.

The decision states, "The Committee holds schools should be made aware that rabbis need not appear before the students, but when a rabbi from one stream is invited to speak rabbis from other streams and educators with a secular, humanist, liberal, pluralistic inclination should be invited as well."

A letter on this issue previously circulated in schools by the Education Ministry Director-General says it is "very desirable" to invite "rabbis" from all "streams" to schools. In this week's decision the committee insisted that the words "very desirable" be changed to "mandatory."

Shalgi demanded the Director-General uphold her pledge in a letter sent to him to instruct schools to invite "rabbis" from different "streams."

Shinui and Meretz MKs expressed their support for this demand, saying the Education Ministry must be forced to operate in this spirit and to instruct schools to act accordingly. MK Yossi Sarid even attacked the custom of invited chareidi rabbonim to lecture in government schools on the Jewish legacy and Jewish tradition.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni refused to sit with the Reform representatives and stormed out of the meeting. Before leaving and slamming the door shut Rabbi Gafni called out to Shalgi, "The Reform stab a knife in the back of Am Yisroel and tear the Torah into pieces. You can reach whatever decision you like. Anyway this is all just a show and your decisions are worthless. In the matter of Christian symbols you are in favor of having every school do as it sees fit and here you want to force these clowns [on schools]."

Rabbi Avrohom Y. Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, responded to the decision scathingly. "We, the chareidi public, feel great responsibility toward the children in government schools and toward Klal Yisroel. We are deeply concerned about the future and the fate of the Jew--more than all of the secular guardians who are responsible for the acute educational crisis, which is the principle reason for the thirst prevailing today in government schools to hear lectures on real Judaism from real rabbis, and not from Reform and Conservative `rabbis,' the falsifiers and distorters of Judaism. Rather than bringing real solutions for the crisis and the failure of the government education system, you on the Education Committee are making the situation worse by inviting Reform rabbis whose appearance before yaldei Yisroel will only increase their confusion. For 50 years you have been infusing yaldei Yisroel with secular culture. Look at the fruits. And now you want to increase and expand the rot."

Rabbi Shmuel Rotner, representing the organization Manof which also participated in the meeting, said it would be better to entirely forego inviting any rabbis to deliver lectures rather than to invite Reform rabbis as well. "Reform is not a legitimate stream of Judaism but a cult. They do not keep mitzvas and do not represent Judaism in any way. Most of the parents at government schools are traditionalists who follow the true Jewish legacy. Therefore inviting Reform or Conservative rabbis represents an act of coercion against parents by educating their children in a manner inconsistent with their wishes."


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