Beit Yaakov case in High Court.
Beit Yaakov case in High Court. Israel news photo: Flash 90

The 43 Hassidic sets of parents from Emanuel threatened with two weeks of jail time have made various arrangements for their children to be cared for by neighbors and family. This morning, however, the Supreme Court issued a statement saying the judges would consider exempting one parent in each family from serving jail time – at least until the other parent is freed from prison.

The Court stated that exemptions of this nature could be made for parents who filed a written request to this effect.

The parents are being jailed because of their refusal to follow a Court ruling to send their daughters to a school they feel has lower religious standards than they wish for their families.

Monkey Wrench: "Come to Jail at Noon, Not at 5 PM"
On another plane, the Court has apparently thrown a monkey wrench into the plans for the giant demonstrations of today, by ordering the parents to report to the Russian Compound jail in Jerusalem by noon today. The protest is scheduled for 1:30 PM, and is to end four hours later with a parade of protestors escorting the parents to prison.

Hareidi-religious sources emphasize that the issue is not one of ethnic discrimination, but rather a question of religious observance. “If there is discrimination against Sephardim,” said hareidi spokesman Dudi Zilbershlag, “it has nothing to do with the city of Emanuel. The school there is divided along religious lines, and even the parents in the ‘general’ stream want this separation to continue.”

“The Supreme Court has distanced itself from various population sectors," Zilbershlag said, "which itself casts a shadow over the rule of law. The giant hareidi protest against the Supreme Court a few years ago [helped in that] the hareidim are no longer viewed as an enemy of the Court - but other sectors, such as the settlers, the bereaved families, and many others, no longer have any confidence in the Court. When a body of this nature loses its trust, this is [a problem].”

Others have asked: "What's next? A court ruling that boys and girls must study in the same classes?"

Hareidi protests are expected not only in several places in Jerusalem, but also in Bnei Brak and other hareidi centers around the country.

President Shimon Peres is meeting with Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush of the hareidi-religious United Torah Judaism party in an attempt to reach a compromise.