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Ulta-orthodox Jews Insist on Segregation from Sephardi Jews in Classrooms

 
 
Miller
 
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 06:52 am
100,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews rally in Jerusalem in support of segregation
by Paul Woodward on June 17, 2010

“It’s like putting Americans and Africans together. They can’t study together with such huge mental differences,” an ultra-Orthodox Jewish parent said when explaining why he cannot allow his daughters to share a classroom with Sephardi Jewish girls.

It’s hard to countenance the concept of a “demographic threat” and treat it as socially acceptable without also opening the door to other forms of bigotry that a liberal Zionist cannot possibly tolerate.

This is the dilemma many Israelis now face: How do you justify the idea that the rights of a non-Jewish minority can be restricted (this being a practical necessity if Israel is to remain a Jewish state), and then stand up in defense of religious and racial pluralism when ultra-Orthodox Jews insist that the “purity” of their children will be tainted if they are forced to share classrooms with Sephardi Jews?

Today, as 100,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews protested in Jerusalem in support of segregation, many Israelis probably feel conflicted about which particular demographic threat now poses the greatest danger to Israel.

The liberal commentator, Yossi Sarid, expresses what I take to be commonplace Israeli secular Jewish contempt for and exasperation with the ultra-Orthodox when he writes: “[T]he rebellious Haredim must be put in their place.”

Last December, Haaretz reported:

The Ashkenazi students of the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov girls’ school in [the West Bank settlement] Immanuel stayed home on Wednesday, yet again, as part of an organized protest against the decision by the Education Ministry and High Court to end the segregation between Sephardi and Ashkenazi students.

“No court ruling or Education Ministry decision can bring the two groups together,” an Immanuel resident said Wednesday.

“It’s like putting Americans and Africans together. They can’t study together with such huge mental differences,” he said.

Some 70 Ashkenazi students of the Beit Yaakov girls’ school stopped attending classes two days before the Hanukkah holiday – in protest of the ministry’s efforts to force the ultra-Orthodox school to rescind the segregation, in keeping with the High Court ruling.

The father of one Mizrahi student was in no doubt about the basis for discrimination: “The Ashkenazis think they’re more intelligent than we are, but what really bugs them is our skin color.”

Sami Michael, an Israeli author who grew up in Baghdad and settled in Israel in 1949 when he was 23, notes that even in the darkest days in Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon, they never separated Jews from Muslims and Christians in schools.

On segregation in Immanuel he writes:

My nerves are tingling and my flesh is crawling as I write these lines. This is a small story about two girls attending the same school who became friends and who are now required, by racist order, to wear school uniforms of different colors.

They have been forbidden to come in contact with each other and in order to make the prohibition concrete, a fence covered with an opaque cloth has been stretched between them. They preserve their friendship by passing notes through a hole in the fence.

This story did not happen in the days of apartheid South Africa or in the dark times before the civil rights movement in the United States or in a ghetto in an insane Europe during World War II.

The two schoolgirls wearing uniforms of different colors are Jewish girls from the Israeli settlement of Immanuel in the West Bank, which is flourishing under the flag and armed protection of the Israel Defense Forces. The school also receives funding courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer.

The two schoolgirls’ crime is their different ethnic origins. One is an Ashkenazi Jew, whose family’s roots are in Europe, and her friend is a Mizrahi Jew, whose family comes from Middle Eastern and North African countries. Was it for this that the state of Israel forged its path through rivers of the blood of its sons and its enemies?

Even in the darkest days in Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon, they never separated Jews from Muslims and Christians in schools.

One of the initiators of the segregation in Immanuel commented: “This isn’t ethnic separation, but rather religious.” He was right, but only partially. Indeed, this separation is not ethnic but rather “racist,” a word rarely used, even by those of courageous and honest determination.

The Supreme Court’s justices, whom I see as the last bastion of democracy in Israel, used the term “discrimination.”

To my regret, intellectuals whose voice resounds from time to time from here and abroad have sealed their lips. They and the vast majority of Israeli society used to think of “discrimination” as something unclean. What? Here? In our enlightened country?

Along came the righteous Supreme Court justices, headed by Edmond Levy and Hanan Melcer, who smashed the taboo and used the despised word “discrimination.”

Let us imagine for a moment a school, say in Germany or Britain, which puts up a separation fence for “religious” reasons, as the Immanuel racists claimed, and compels the Jewish students to wear a uniform of a different color. What a ruckus we would be raising!

I have personally met the current head of the Jewish community in Tehran and I have conversed with many Iranian expatriates in Europe and the United States. I am also in touch with combative elements in Iran. I can attest that Jewish schoolchildren and students living in Iran today are not required to wear clothing of a different color.

How has it happened that rabbis, at least in Immanuel, are even more benighted than the ayatollahs we excoriate and abominate day and night? And why have the intellectuals here mostly disappeared?

www.warincontext.org
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Baal
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:17 am
While there is a bit of racism in the Hassidic/Harerdi-Ashkenaz community, it is far more complicated than that. Hassidic Jews and Sephardic Jews have different customs and rites, and it has nothing to do with 'racial purity' as the vehemently anti-religious Israeli press prefers to portray it, and which the international press prefers to sensationalize.

That being said, while that particular Hassidic sect (Slonim) does not have many people of Sephardic origin, there are quite a few others that have a large Sephardic contingent (Breslov and Habad in particular); and again Sephardic in the religious community refers more to a set of customs and rites rather than a specific lineage.. I am not taking sides here, but simply saying that the story is more complicated than it is portrayed.

If the Sephardic Jews would adopt the customs of the Slonim Hassidim, I am certain that the Ashkenaz would have no qualms about having their children in the same classroom.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:19 am
@Baal,
Baal wrote:

While there is a bit of racism in the Hassidic/Harerdi-Ashkenaz community, it is far more complicated than that. Hassidic Jews and Sephardic Jews have different customs and rites, and it has nothing to do with 'racial purity' as the vehemently anti-religious Israeli press prefers to portray it, and which the international press prefers to sensationalize.

That being said, while that particular Hassidic sect (Slonim) does not have many people of Sephardic origin, there are quite a few others that have a large Sephardic contingent (Breslov and Habad in particular); and again Sephardic in the religious community refers more to a set of customs and rites rather than a specific lineage.. I am not taking sides here, but simply saying that the story is more complicated than it is portrayed.

If the Sephardic Jews would adopt the customs of the Slonim Hassidim, I am certain that the Ashkenaz would have no qualms about having their children in the same classroom.


Why should you have to have the exact same customs, to share a classroom of learning? I don't buy that for a second. It's just an excuse for racism, like many we've heard here in the states.

Cycloptichorn
Baal
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:20 am
Also, would it be of any use to note that the Sephardic leadership has been silent on this issue, and the people screaming "Racism" are mainly secular Ashkenazis from Tel Aviv?
0 Replies
 
Baal
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:22 am
@Cycloptichorn,
The Hassidic community prefers complete segregation in all aspects of life from others who do not follow their customs. It's not racism, it's just very exclusive -- there is a difference; and you can criticize them from their insular lifestyle, but their belief is that if one of the children in the school has a TV in her home, it is a negative influence on all the others; you can debate that, but not the general notion as being "Racist". As I've said, if they (the sephardim) adopted the Ashkenaz customs, they would have no issues with it, and this is not just a hypothetical statement, but something I have actually seen happen - and is quite common too.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:25 am
@Baal,
Baal wrote:

The Hassidic community prefers complete segregation in all aspects of life from others who do not follow their customs. It's not racism, it's just very exclusive -- there is a difference; and you can criticize them from their insular lifestyle, but their belief is that if one of the children in the school has a TV in her home, it is a negative influence on all the others; you can debate that, but not the general notion as being "Racist". As I've said, if they (the sephardim) adopted the Ashkenaz customs, they would have no issues with it, and this is not just a hypothetical statement, but something I have actually seen happen - and is quite common too.


Shrug. You can call it whatever you like, but intolerance of other people's customs and way of life is a terrible thing and a terrible thing to teach their kids.

There's also comments like this -

Quote:
“It’s like putting Americans and Africans together. They can’t study together with such huge mental differences,” an ultra-Orthodox Jewish parent said when explaining why he cannot allow his daughters to share a classroom with Sephardi Jewish girls.


Ah, hello? This is not an insular comment, it is a racist one. And it's complete bullshit.

Cycloptichorn
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:26 am
@Baal,
Baal wrote:
If the Sephardic Jews would adopt the customs of the Slonim Hassidim, I am certain that the Ashkenaz would have no qualms about having their children in the same classroom.


If the Slonim Hassidim would adopt the customs of Israeli Christians, I am certain many issues would be resolved.

____

Do you not realize how bigoted the group appears, based on your "explanation"? You're certainly not making their position seem any more rational, or acceptable.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:30 am
Intolerance is a common enough human failing. It infects people and groups of all types, and in all situations - laborers, university faculties, religious organizations, even so-called "progressive" political associations. They differ only in the human traits and behaviors they choose to reject.
0 Replies
 
Baal
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:31 am
@Cycloptichorn,
My point was not to defend their customs or actions etc. but merely to place it out of the context of classical racism in which the press is trying to portray it. They would just as quickly refuse to place their kids in classrooms with secular Ashkenazi children, even if those children were close relatives - and again, this is not a hypothetical situation - I've seen it happen. It's just their lifestyle and their outlook on how their children should be raised. Insular, isolated, and maybe bigoted - yes, racist? No.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:34 am
@Baal,
Baal wrote:

My point was not to defend their customs or actions etc. but merely to place it out of the context of classical racism in which the press is trying to portray it. They would just as quickly refuse to place their kids in classrooms with secular Ashkenazi children, even if those children were close relatives - and again, this is not a hypothetical situation - I've seen it happen. It's just their lifestyle and their outlook on how their children should be raised. Insular, isolated, and maybe bigoted - yes, racist? No.


So what? Insular, isolated and bigoted is just as bad as Racist.

I continue to maintain that statements such as the one quoted above give the lie to what you say. Americans and Africans do not have such a significantly different mentality that they cannot learn in the same classrooms, and the idea that they do is typically associated with racism.

Cycloptichorn
Baal
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:40 am
@Cycloptichorn,
If you want to criticize them for their ideas on child education, go ahead.

Regarding the comment about Americans and Africans, etc. - the mentality here is attribute simply to culture and not to "Race" per se; I don't think it's an outrageous comment, paraphrasing that man's comment, to say "American culture has a different view on things than 'African' culture does".

All I'm saying is that this controversy in Emmanuel is not about people saying "I don't want my children in the same classroom as people of Sephardic origin because I believe them to be racially inferior", and I say this because I have inside knowledge of the groups involved.
firefly
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 11:26 am
@Baal,
I think the desire to remain insulated is true of the ultra-orthodox in Christian sects as well. Many fundamentalist Christians home school children, some prohibit internet access and limit TV in the home.

I think these are attempts to curb assimilation, and resist outside cultural influences, in order to maintain the specific traditions, practices, and beliefs of a particular group.

I can see these as cultural differences and not a form of racism. I'm willing to accept Baal's explanation.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 11:34 am
i can get where they're coming from, i hated having to go to school with al those other kids

why couldn't i just have gone to school by myself

and now, when i go to the store or tim horton's there's still people everywhere, we need individually segregated societal institutions, a grocery store for every citizen, think of the jobs you'd create
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:13 pm
@Baal,
Nope, fella'. It is not that the Sephardic people are racially inferior, but what they "do," viz., their culture, is to the Orthodox.

And I too say this having inside knowledge of the two groups mentioned. Even in America Orthodox Jews often look down their noses at the rest of the Jewish community as being tantamount to apostate unbelievers. Let me tell you, that attitude really pisses off Conservative Jews. On the other hand, Reformed Jews don't give a **** about the Orthodox and consider them holier than thou pedants, who frankly, give Jews a bad image.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:36 pm
@djjd62,
I wish they would open a Tim Hortons in Austin.

Nice place to go for soup and a roll.
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 07:32 pm
@kuvasz,
The ultra-orthodox Jewish sects are more insular than other orthodox Jews. Even in the United States, they live within their own tight communities and run their own schools.

Quote:
Haredi Judaism is the most theologically conservative form of Judaism. Haredi Judaism is often translated as ultra-orthodox Judaism, although Haredi Jews themselves object to this translation. They simply refer to themselves as Jews, and they consider more liberal forms of Judaism to be unauthentic.

According to Haredi Jews, authentic Jews believe God wrote the Torah, strictly observe Jewish Law (halacha), and refuse to modify Judaism to meet contemporary needs. The word Haredi derives from the Hebrew word for fear (harada) and can be interpreted as "one who trembles in awe of God" (Isaiah 66:2,5).

In 18th century Europe, as many Jews were promoting a reformation of Judaism that would enable them to take advantage of new opportunities opening up to them outside of the ghetto, more conservative Jews were arguing that Judaism could not be modified in any way. These Eastern European Jews, who fought against the birth of more liberal forms of Judaism, were the founders of today's Haredi movement.

Haredim live in insular communities with limited contact to the outside world. Their lives revolve around Torah study, prayer and family. Television, films, secular publications and the Internet are not a part of their world. They tend to have their own economies, educational systems, medical services, and welfare institutions and gemachs (free loan societies for everything from money to household items). In Israel Haredi Jews are exempt from army service.

The distinctive dress of Haredi Jews helps them to define, and then insulate, their communities, as well as maintain a traditional and spiritual focus. They dress as their ancestors dressed in 18th and 19th century Europe. The men tend to wear dark suits with white shirts, and to cover their heads with black, wide-brimmed hats. The men also generally have beards and sidelocks (peyot). Women, in line with strict standards of modesty, tend to wear long skirts and shirts with long sleeves and high necklines. After the women get married, they cover their heads with either scarves, hats or wigs.

Today the largest Haredi communities are growing in Israel and the United States, and smaller Haredi communities are located in England, Canada, France, Belgium, and Australia.
http://judaism.about.com/od/denominationsofjudaism/a/haredi.htm


Other ultra-Orthodox sects include the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jews, Satmar Hasidic Jews and the Neturei Karta sect. The Satmar Hasidic and Neturei Karta are also anti-Zionist sects.

Besides the distinctions based on degree of religious orthodoxy and particular sect, ethnic factors can further divide, or distinguish, various Jewish groups based on their country of ancestral origin.

So, there are Sephardi Jews
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sephardi_Jews

Ashkenazi Jews
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi

Mizrahi Jews
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizrahi_Jews

Certainly, in the case of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sects, you have tightly knit groups which want to remain insular, separate, and isolated from the larger community. They do not want integration and they do not want to assimilate. Some want almost no part of the secular world. And these sects are sometimes in conflict with each other over various issues.

Religious sects should be able to live entirely within their own segregated communities, and control their own community resources. Various parts of Brooklyn, N.Y., for instance, are home to several such religious sect communities, and these are rather self-contained, ethnocentric enclaves.

But, if a particular Jewish religious group wants to segregate itself, to the exclusion of other groups (including other groups of Jews), I feel they have to fund and run their own private schools, just as any other parochial school is run. It's my understanding that's what occurs in the U.S.

I'm really not familiar with the situation in Israel. Why don't the ultra-orthodox in Israel simply run their own private schools? Wouldn't that allow each group to exclude whomever they wished?

Segregating within a school seems wrong and somewhat ridiculous. Having private schools would seem to be a better alternative. But, as an outsider to all of these ultra-orthodox religious/ethnic/cultural factors, I am sure there is a great deal I don't understand about this sort of in-fighting.







talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 07:38 pm
Weren't all these groups formed by false messiahs in the Middle Ages or so?
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 09:42 pm
@talk72000,
I think all the ultra-orthodox sects came into being in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were founded by Rabbis.
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 01:17 pm
@firefly,
Those false messiahs also called themselves or were considered Rabbis as was Jesus.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 01:45 pm

Interesting
0 Replies
 
 

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