Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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The Next Israeli Religious Battle

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

ktToday’s Jewish super-ultra-charedi newspaper in Israel published a front page report from one of the Torah leaders of the generation…

(Yeshiva World News) “HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita (one of the Torah leaders of Israel) has spoken out regarding talmidei torah (elementary and high school) and the ongoing effort to introduce a “foreign curriculum” into the schools. The Gadol Hador (Torah leader of the generation – per those who wrote the article) instructs us to distance ourselves from such schools.”

No doubt we will quickly hear from a variety of U.S. based and/or English speaking ultra-orthodox pundits shouting about the destructive influence of secular subjects on ultra-orthodox Jewish youth.  (Look for it to show up this week or next week in Ami magazine, Mishpacha magazine and on the Cross Currents blog.)

The hypocrisy will be difficult to deal with.  If these words are truly from Rav Kanievsky (who specifically said previously that if you didn’t directly hear it from him or see it written in his hand, don’t believe it came from him – and this would not be the first instance of published words of a Torah leader either not being from him or being a private answer for a single individual and his given situation) they would be a perfectly reasonable response for a community that has been operating without these subjects for generations.  What will be hypocritical will be that the majority of U.S. ultra-orthodox yeshivas DO teach secular subjects. 

Therefore the responders WILL have attended received such subjects supplementing their Torah education.  And most likely their children will be attending yeshvas where they are receiving them as well.  And they will be writing their articles in English, not in Yiddish or Loshon Kodesh. 

The model fully works in the U.S. for the U.S. based ultra-orthodox community.  The secular subjects are focused (math, English, science – no art, music, sport) and confined to 25% of the school day.  And it’s enough that the graduates can qualify for college and/or vocation programs if they wish.  They can pass state skills examines to certify their education.  And with that they can fully enter the job market at whatever level their abilities and personal directions take them.

What will be outrageous is NOT the Israeli ultra-orthodox community position.  What will be outrageous will be the U.S. punditry jumping up to support it…while their ABILITY to act as pundits will be based on them having received that little secular educational boost.

…On a side note, it might be worth parts of the public school system looking at how the U.S. Jewish yeshivas are able to operate at 1/2 the cost of the public school system AND achieve full secular outcomes investing only 25% of the time on the subjects.


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