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
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."