Bill would require haredis to teach core curriculum
By LAHAV HARKOV (The Jerusalem Post)
Independence MK Wilf brings to Ministerial Committee law requiring core subjects to be taught in all state-funded schools.
All schools receiving government funding should be required to teach Education Ministry’s core curriculum, according to an education bill being brought to a vote at the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.
The initiative, proposed by Independence faction chairwoman Einat Wilf, along with MKs Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), Meir Sheetrit (Kadima), Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), and sponsored by Meretz and Kadima MKs, would require schools to teach core curriculum subjects, such as Torah, Civics, Hebrew, Math and English, during at least 75 percent of the school day.
Wilf submitted the bill under legislative allotment, explaining that her party sees this bill as essential to its mission to integrate all groups in Israeli society and contribute to a more just division of “the burden on all citizens.”
She added that this bill is “fighting for the essential character of the State of Israel,” saying that the state cannot fund schools whose alumni do not have “the most basic tools to be part of Israeli society and the workforce.”
Wilf also pointed out that there is no halachic problem with combining secular and religious studies, as is proven by many haredi [ultra-orthodox] schools outside of Israel. In addition, Hotovely and Orbach, who co-sponsored the bill, are Orthodox.
“I call for the Ministerial Committee to pass this bill and give tens of thousands of students the basic right to choose their lifestyle,” Hotovely said. “Many great Jewish sages, from Maimonides to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, received a secular education and did not see this as contradicting the Torah.”
In Wilf’s opinion, the state should fund a limited number of schools for those who excel in Judaic studies, just as it does for sciences or arts, but that other haredi students should be able to learn more secular subjects.
“There is no reason that Israel should fund a life of unemployment, poverty and withdrawal from society,” Wilf added. “I am not under the delusion that the change will come from this specific bill, but this struggle should be on the agenda as often as possible.”
She also said that she is open to ideas from haredim as to how their schools can give students the skills needed in the modern work force.
Sheetrit, a former education minister, said that education in Israel is currently “catastrophic,” because students are not prepared for modern life. He pointed out that this year, over half of first-grade students are haredi or Arab, and many of them do not learn sciences or Israeli history.
“Now, when there’s a social crisis, the government must act so these students can work and will not become a burden on society,” Sheetrit stated.
Hotovely agreed, saying that if all students receive an equal education, it will decrease social gaps.