Dei'ah Vedibur - Information &

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nisan 5766 - April 4, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Many Against the Few
The Story of Bais Yaakov in Eretz Yisroel -
From a Tender Seedling to a Fruitful Tree

by Yehudit Golan

Part VII

Going Out to the Settlements

With the end of winter, the classes were closed and all the volunteer teachers were sent home. Even after the transit camps shrank and the immigrants were sent to permanent settlements, the holy work didn't stop. Sometimes a school grew and became established and in other cases, it was a big disappointment to the teachers and public activists.

"Messilat Tzion and Eshtaol were two settlements in the Jerusalem corridor to which, in the main, the immigrants from Yemen were sent," says S. "The immigrants were divided like flocks of sheep, sent here and there without being consulted. Three of us friends went out to Eshtaol, not far from Shaar Hagai, in order to meet our students from the transit camp. We hoped that we'd be able to organize a religious school for them in the new settlement. "And as if a whole year hadn't passed, the girls came out to greet us affectionately and accompanied us to their homes while their parents voluntarily signed up to give their daughters a religious education. With the complete list in our hands, we left the settlement hoping to return as teachers there.

"The list was presented to the Ministry of Education and soon we received official permission to open a Bais Yaakov school in Eshtaol. We equipped ourselves with notebooks, books, writing utensils and we set out once again for the promising settlement. And then, when we were in Eshtaol, we received a strange and indifferent welcome. No one came out to meet us and a several of the girls who saw us whispered to us with serious faces, `Teacher, forbidden! Teacher, forbidden!'

"While we were wondering what the meaning of this warning was, one of the secular officials of the settlement came out to meet us and wanted to know what we wanted. We explained that we had come to open a school and that we had permission from the Ministry of Education. `This settlement belongs to us,' the man proclaimed, `and you have no right to teach here! We are giving the immigrants work and we will also open a school for them. Get out of here, you have nothing to look for here.'

"We told him that he couldn't chase us away from a public settlement that was open to all and he answered impudently, `You can walk around, but I will follow you and you'll see that no one will want to learn with you.'

"He was right. The immigrants ignored us, apparently from fear of the man. When he turned away for a moment, one of the immigrants said to us that, a few days before, the Jewish Agency representatives had gathered the immigrants together and told them, 'We're giving you work and they'll come and teach? Whoever learns at their school won't get any work. Besides, members of his family still in the transit camp won't be allowed to transfer to the settlement.' That's how they sabotaged the school and it didn't happen."

In the Messilat Tzion settlement, the situation was similar. There, too, registration had taken place but it was nipped in the bud by the people whose goal it was to distance the children of Israel from Jewish tradition.

In contrast to the burning failure in these settlements, not far from there at the Har Tov transit camp, which is today Beit Shemesh, the girls succeeded. The camp was spread out like a sea of tents behind ten permanent buildings, which made up Beit Shemesh.

"While I was the secretary of Keren Torah, I was sent to open a school at the Har Tov transit camp," relates Rav Samuel. "We got 130 children, a tumbledown shack as a place to learn and we set up a school. It's important to note that the registration issue was a big problem. The parents had to register their children at the David building in the registration wing of the Ministry of Education in Jerusalem and we had to bring them one by one to the office where they presented them with the different options for educating their children. They had to declare that they wanted the education of Agudas Yisroel. Until the registration itself, the parents suffered pressure and threats with the state education representatives warning them that they would lose their jobs if they didn't send their children to them."

Mrs. S., who was sent as a teacher to the Bais Yaakov school at the Har Tov transit camp, had an interesting experience. "I got off the bus and I wanted to know where the school was. A resident of the place pointed to a building on the hillside and I began walking towards it, thinking to myself: 'Nu, the building doesn't look too terrible.' When I got there, I discovered that there was no one in the building, although around it there were twenty girls, some of whom had kerchiefs on their heads. "'I'm the teacher!' I announced and they followed me without a word into the class. We talked, sang, danced and suddenly a tall man came in with a kibbutz sun-cap on his head. 'What are you doing here?' he asked me. 'I'm the teacher,' I said boldly, 'I was sent from Jerusalem to teach!' 'Excellent,' was his reaction, 'Let's go talk in the office.' When there were no girls around, the man who introduced himself as the principal said, "You should know that everyone here is a fanatic. This is a problem. Come back tomorrow and we'll see what can be done.'

"Afterwards, when I was back with the girls, they whispered to me about the man: 'He's a Goy.' Pretty soon the misunderstanding was cleared up. The school I had entered by mistake belonged to Mapai and when the principal understood that he had a Bais Yaakov teacher in front of him, he arrogantly informed me that he had previously been a farmhand and now he was running the school. 'That's the Bais Yaakov', he pointed condescendingly to a shack on the verge of collapse down in the valley. I went back to my proper place, looking painfully at the Torah-observant girls in the hands of the Mapai cowhand."

"At all of sixteen, I was sent to work with the kindergarten children in Har Tov," recalls Mrs. R. "Sixty children were crowded into a small shack and I was the kindergarten teacher. The children got meals and, inasmuch as only 45 children were officially registered, we always had to request additional meals. The people in charge arrived, in order to make sure everything was authorized. But I, who two minutes earlier finally succeeded in seating the sixty tots, didn't allow anyone under any circumstances to disturb them and the appointees left as they had come. Later, Rav Yitzchok Loichter, one of the local educators, told me that it was the hand of Providence that the secular officials didn't notice that the number of children surpassed what was written on their list. The schemes against chareidi institutions continued. They tampered with the locks, and on official registration days, they ambushed the children in order to transfer them to general institutions."

The kindergartens and daycare centers of Bais Yaakov that were opened in the immigrant transit camps around the country also served as a sanctuary from the missionaries who found fertile ground for activity. The innocent and poor immigrants welcomed the emissaries from the mission gratefully and were happy for all suggestions for help and support. Many children were the pledge for continued help and the missionaries were pleased when, with a little effort, they were able to take pure Jewish souls under their wings.

In order to outweigh the bounty offered by the mission for its beneficiaries, hot meals were given to the children in the kindergartens. Quite often, this was the only hot meal that the child received during the day. In this way, these kindergartens were able to save tender souls and some of these children, who had already learned in the mission schools, transferred to these kindergartens and merited a pure Jewish education.


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