Court: Hareidi Schools May Ignore Gov't Meddling

The Supreme Court upholds hareidi-religious schools' right not to teach core subjects.

Hillel Fendel ,

Schoolgirls (file)
Schoolgirls (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Supreme Court has ruled that hareidi high schools need not teach core secular subjects. By a 7-2 margin, the justices voted not to strike down a law exempting the hareidi schools from the requirement to teach the subjects.

The court thus rejected a suit filed by former Education Minister Amnon Rubenstein of the far-left Meretz party, and others. The complainants claimed that the law allowing the hareidi exemption is unconstitutional – even though Israel does not have a constitution. They claimed that the exemption "harms the ability of hareidi students to integrate in society and the work force, and thus harms their constitutional rights to dignity and freedom of occupation."

The subjects in question are math, English, computers, and science. The hareidi schools concentrate virtually exclusively on Torah subjects.

The hareidi schools thus continue to be free to teach only the subjects that they choose, without government intervention. They will therefore continue to receive (only) 60% of the national budgetary allocations that other schools receive. This is because of a law passed in 2008, following a threatened court suit and hareidi counter-pressure, that enables the Education Minister to recognize hareidi schools as "special cultural educational institutions" that are eligible for 60% of regular allocations.

Court President Asher Gronis wrote in the majority ruling, inter alia, "This is an exceptional suit, in which a third party asks that we obligate the State to act paternalistically towards another. This could be acceptable in extreme cases, but this case is certainly not one of them."



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