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      Deputy Minister of Education: I'll Move My Office to Jail

      Deputy Minister of Education Meir Porush says he will move his office to Masiyahu prison, where parents of students in Emmanuel are serving time.
      By Malkah Fleisher
      First Publish: 6/19/2010, 11:55 PM / Last Update: 6/19/2010, 11:50 PM

      Flash 90

      The Deputy Minister of Education, Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism), has announced that he is planning to move his office across from the entrance to the Masiyahu prison, where the parents of the female elementary school students in Emmanuel are serving their two-week jail sentence, timed to end with the start of school summer vacation, in a separate wing of the institution.

      Thirty-five fathers and 22 mothers of girls from a quasi-public hareidi-religious school for girls in the Samaria town of Emmanuel were sentenced to jail after refusing a court order to integrate their daughters – who are in a highly religious Slonim hassidic educational track in school – with girls on a track they say is not up to their religious standards.  The court ruled that the Slonim track discriminated against Sephardi pupils.  However, approximately 30 percent of the girls in the Slonim track are from Sephardi families.  Some of the fathers currently serving time in Masiyahu are Sephardi.

      Knesset Member Yochanan Plesner (Kadima) called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar Saturday to remove Porush from his position in the wake of his announcement.

      Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said Saturday "If Porush and his friends are so full of scorn for the Zionist State and its laws, they are invited to leave the government and to stop the suffering that they are caused by receiving money and support from the state which they do not recognize."

      The children of the jailed parents at Masiyahu demonstrated Friday prior to the onset of Shabbat opposite the walls of the prison.  The children, as of now, are waiting to see in the coming days if their parents will be released early from the prison.  On Sunday, an emergency hearing will take place to determine whether the mothers of the girls will be forced to report to prison.  Among the women are nursing mothers, mothers of large families, and a woman who gave birth a few days ago.

      A sardonic comment on the incarceration of the group of religiously observant parents was broadcast on Israel's religious radio station Radio Kol Chai which announces candlelighting times for the Sabbath every Friday. This week, after announcing the times in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the announcer gave the time that Sabbath begins at Masiyahu Prison.