Daily Israel Report

Hareidi Students Pass Nat'l Average by Far on Psychometric Exam

Hareidi men scored up to 3 times better than average on recent psychometric exam, despite, or because of, their lack of general studies schooling.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/1/2008, 2:38 PM

A class of 30 hareidi men scored overwhelmingly better than the national average on a recent psychometric exam - despite, or because of, their lack of general studies schooling.

Facts Belie Editorial
Haaretz newspaper editorialized angrily this week against the exemption of hareidi students "from acquiring knowledge such as English and math" - and just a few days later reported on the hareidi students' high scholastic achievements. 

The editorial was in response to a law passed the Knesset this week.  The new law  states that hareidi high schools - "yeshivot ktanot" - will continue to receive State funding, despite their not teaching the official "core" program of math, English and science.

Successful Student Explains
"If I would have learned English and math [in high school]," one student was quoted by Haaretz as saying, "it would have been a terrible waste of time. I hear from people who did matriculation exams in high school that half the time is wasted; anyway, in the end, whoever wants to get into university has to learn it all over again."

The specific class of 30 hareidi students who were the subject of the article scored as follows: Four (over 13%) scored better than 700, compared with 5% of the general population, and 45% did better than 610, compared with 27% of the others.  70% received at least a "passing" grade of 400, compared with 50% of the national population.

Torah Study Instead
The hareidi schools teach very little or no general studies for most of the students' years in elementary and high school, and concentrate on Torah studies instead.  The rationale behind this approach is based on the pre-eminence of Torah study in Jewish Law and thought, and the confidence that general studies can be made up in a concentrated and more effective manner if and when they become necessary. 

The Haaretz report emphasizes that the sample class represents only a tiny fraction of the entire hareidi population and can therefore not be considered a scientific model. However, its tone puts the lie to the left-wing paper's editorial of only a few days before. 

Haaretz Attacks Hareidim and Secularists
Apparently unaware of the hareidi psychometric results about to be publicized in their own newspaper, the Haaretz editors wrote, "The hareidi manipulators 'succeeded' in achieving publicly-subsidized ignorance for their students." This was done, the editorial notes cynically, out of "fear that general knowledge would cause them to abandon the political camp that is dependent on their ignorance."

The editorial acknowledges the recent upsurge of secular interest in Judaism and Jewish studies - and attacks that as well: "Education Minister Yuli Tamir's willingness to give in to the hareidim regarding general education does not indicate tolerance, but rather sycophancy and surrender. The secularists have developed a strange fear of Jewish studies and of holiness in general, as part of their search for identity. Secularism has lost the self-confidence it had in the early days of the State, and has begun to lower its head before everything that is considered 'spiritual' or 'preserving the Jewish spark'..."