Education Ministry Penalizes Yeshiva U. Grads

The Ministry of Education, whose standards determine teachers' salaries, has set off a storm among U.S. immigrants by not recognizing Yeshiva University's undergraduate degrees.

, | updated: 16:05

The policy has apparently been in effect for a while, but only recently came to light. The official explanation for the refusal to accept YU's degree is that the undergraduate degree is often based on a year of yeshiva study in Israel. The Education Ministry explains that it is taking precautions against forged graduate diplomas.

Ministry spokesman Shuli Pear said the government recognizes their academic degrees for work, but concerning salaries, "according to the rules, institutions of non-academic learning, like yeshivas, are not recognized as having as having received an academic degree. By the same token, it is impossible to recognize a master's degree of anyone whose bachelor's degree was from an unrecognized institution."

Most new immigrants from North America in recent years have been orthodox Jews who have learned in a yeshiva for a year or attend a university such as Yeshiva U. that accepts yeshiva learning as part of its curricula.

The policy could harm immigration, warns the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization which encourages people to move to Israel.

The organization's spokeswoman Daniella Slasky rejected the explanation from the Education Ministry. "These olim [new immigrants] are not being paid or recognized the way they should be. It's discriminatory against immigrants with degrees from abroad who are being paid on such a low salary scale," she said/

An example of those affected is Dina Sacknovitz who graduated from Yeshiva Univ. before earning a master's in psychology at Columbia University. Her qualifications were good enough for her to be accepted as a school psychologist but her pay is based on having only a high school degree.

Yeshiva University president Richard Joel also criticized the policy, arguing that "never has an accrediting body or a graduate school ever had the slightest question about the stature of a Yeshiva University degree."