The Etzion Talmud Torah in Kiryat Malachi held a special event for school parents last Wednesday evening. The event was attended by Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Bnei Akiva yeshivas, and was held in the wake of recent expressions of racism displayed by Israelis in the city against Ethiopian immigrants.
The issue came to light after a television news report showed a local homeowner’s committee refusing to sell apartments to Ethiopians. Following the report, thousands of Ethiopian immigrants and their children protested outside an apartment complex in the city.
Despite the racism reports, however, the participants in the event in the Etzion Talmud Torah described Kiryat Malachi as a city that welcomes immigrants and allows them to absorb into the community. This is especially true of the Etzion Talmud Torah, where Ethiopian children study side by side with other children.
“Not only is any discrimination unthinkable, they are an integral part of the educational work being done here,” Rabbi Druckman told Arutz Sheva. “They study here in the school and are an integral part of it.”
He added, “The Torah core group here in Kiryat Malachi deals with anything having to do with absorbing Ethiopians. Here in the area, a few kilometers away, there’s a special preparatory academy where the graduates from the Ethiopian community study, and then they become an integral part of the Or Etzion hesder yeshiva.”
Rabbi Druckman’s renarks were enforced by Yedidya Yesharim, head of the Etzion Talmud Torah Parents’ Association, who told Arutz Sheva that there is no such thing as discrimination or racism in either the school or in Kiryat Malachi in general.
“Today the students asked me if I was at the protest last night, and I told them I wasn’t,” he recalled. “I explained to them that I think the protest symbolizes Kiryat Malachi as a problematic, racist city. I think the opposite is true: Kiryat Malachi is a city where you can be proud of the way it absorbs olim. Our Torah core group is a full partner in this.”
Yesharim added that in the Etzion Talmud Torah “you can see children, sitting side by side without anything to create any sort of difference. My children didn’t even understand what the commotion was all about, because there’s no such thing. Not with their friends and not in the classroom.”
“They are part of the people of Israel and part of the wonderful gathering of the exiles which we’ve been privileged to have in our generation,” Rabbi Druckman said. “It would only be appropriate to bring them closer to us, just as we should bring the Russian olim closer. We should bring anyone who comes to Israel closer.”