Rabbi Chaim Cohen told a story Wednesday of how Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv reacted to discrimination against Sephardi girls in the hareidi school system. Nearly 12 years ago, he told Kol B’Rama, “There was a very bad situation, a lot of girls were left out, and Rabbi Elyashiv, of blessed memory, decided he must take action.”
“He invited a Jew he knows well who lives abroad, and a rabbi from Jerusalem, and told them that a new seminary [religious women’s school – ed.] must be opened,” Rabbi Cohen continued. When the men expressed concern that the community would fight their school, he said, Rabbi Elyashiv said his own granddaughter would be the first student. He convinced a second leading hareidi rabbi to enlist his daughter as the second student, and so the school opened.
Rabbi Elyashiv said schools that discriminate against Sephardi students are guilty of theft, Rabbi Cohen added, because they take government funding contributed in part by those of Sephardi background, but then refuse to provide their services equally to the Sephardi community.