Many ultra-Orthodox schools refuse to teach core curriculum and refuse state funds rather than accept what they regard as secular interference in religious studies.
By David Hellerman, World Israel News
The leader of one of Israel’s largest hasidic sects approved the teaching of core curriculum in the movement’s elementary schools, according to Hebrew media reports.
Israel’s Kan News reported that Belz, Israel’s second largest hasidic group, will including math, science, Hebrew and English curriculum for children in the Belz Talmud Torah system in the next school year, covering grades 1-8.
Belz, which is led by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, has around 7,000 children enrolled in its Talmud Torah schools.
Many haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools refuse to teach core curriculum and refuse state funds rather than accept what they regard as secular interference in religious studies. The move may reflect the haredi community’s growing demographics and a desire to enter the Israeli work force.
According to Kan, Belz’s education committee met with Education Ministry director Dalit Stauber and other top education officials on Monday to devise a model in which the schools teaching core curriculum would receive state funding based on the success of the students in those studies.
An educational official quoted by Kan said he expects the agreement will be expanded to Belz’s high school-age yeshivas. There is no agreement yet on whether Belz students will be able to take high school matriculation exams.
Yesh Atid MK Moshe Tur-Paz, who was involved in the Education Ministry’s talks with Belz explained to Kan that the agreement was a year in the making. Last year, while serving as the Jerusalem municipality’s Education Department, he was first approached by Belz.
“They said they came to their decision over the need to earn a living and the need to finance their institutions, with the understanding that without core curriculum they would not be able to progress and their students would remain barred from the job market,” Tur-Paz said.
Tur-Paz added that he hopes the success of the initiative will encourage other haredi schools to follow in Belz’s footsteps.