In accordance with the coalition agreement between Likud and UTJ, a new bill is calling to cancel the core curriculum requirements in haredi schools.
In effect, it calls for revoking former Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron's (Yesh Atid) order to make funding for haredi schools conditional on teaching the core subjects.
Behind the move stands Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (UTJ) and his office, along with the Education Ministry's team. The bill is supported by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and his Jewish Home party, out of the belief that haredi schools should not be coerced into teaching core subjects.
This past Wednesday, MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) wrote a letter to Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, in which he asked them to oppose the bill.
"The government is currently promoting legislation aimed at canceling the mandatory teaching of core subjects in haredi schools. The end result would be that haredi students won't learn math and English, and it would take away their ability to make a respectable living for themselves and their families in the future."
He added that, without math and English, most opportunities in the future job market would be closed to these children. "Some of them will certainly continue in the Torah world, but those who also want to go out and work will find that many positions (and particularly those that pay more) will be closed to them."
Lapid stressed that the effort is unreasonable for hared children, unreasonable for secular and religious students who will have to shoulder the burden in the future, and also incompatible with Jewish values. "No one would claim that there is a contradiction between Judaism and studying languages and math. Just the opposite.
"All of Jewish history is a desire for education and studying. 'Ultimately, all Torah study that is not accompanied with work is destined to cease and to cause sin.' King Solomon, the smartest of all people, spoke 70 languages. The Rambam was a doctor and scientist. Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra wrote his Book of Numbers about the decimal system. Gersonides wrote Work of the Reckoner, which deals with higher math. The Vilna Gaon studied math and had a vast knowledge of the sciences."
Lapid expressed deep concern over the impact on all Israeli children that would result from canceling the law. "This initiative will increase the hatred in Israel. It will increase the ignorance in Israel. It will increase the rift between different parts of the Israeli society. Most of all, it's unfair for the thousands of young people who are prevented from earning a living.
"There are many homes in the haredi sector that are hungry for such an education for their children, but their voices are not heard amongst the noise of the busybodies. The change that brings tidings of equal opportunity for haredi students has already begun. It has started to bear fruit, but we must not let it be cut down."
The Yesh Atid head concluded with a special request to the Chief Rabbis: "I call on your honors to listen to the loud and brave moral voice that has won support from all parts of society, against the idea that narrow political reasons should revoke Israeli children's knowledge, wisdom and the ability to make a living that they deserve."