The Knesset Plenum passed the bill repealing the requirement to teach the "Core Curriculum" in haredi schools by a majority of 37 in support versus 31 opposed.
The Core Curriculum is a term for basic government-mandated English, math and science studies in elementary schools. A law passed under the previous government, and promoted vigorously by Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, stipulated that government funding for haredi schools be dependent upon their compliance with Cure Curriculum requirements, consisting of 10 weekly hours teaching the "core" secular subjects.
United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush presented the bill at the opening of the debate in the Knesset, explaining the importance of maintaining the independence of haredi education. "For 65 years since the establishment of the state, the Education Ministry recognized the status of the independent "exempt" schools, " Porush said, referring to some haredi school's exemption from state regulations, "Ministers came and went, they all recognized the exempt schools. Then came Yesh Atid and initiated a bill, which, for one thing, was full of problems, a fact that the Education Ministry acknowledges even today.
"Yesh Atid invented a new interpretation of the idea of a Jewish and democratic state. What was here before the state? Who was here before the first Aliya? The second, the Third? Even before Hertzl dreamed about a Jewish state. There were haredi Jews living here, who, under the direction of their Rabbis, accepted rules and limitations upon themselves, especially in terms of education."
MK Parush explained that Yesh Atid's law violates the commitments of the state's founders. "When Ben Gurion wanted to appear in front of the UN as the representative of the Jews in the Land of Israel, he had to gain the agreement of all political and public organizations, so he made a commitment to Agudat Yisrael - which then represented haredi Jewry - regarding the four main issues in what is called the "status quo" document. In this document Ben Gurion commits to allowing every parent to educate his children according to his conscience and way of life.
Where do the Yesh Atid members get the gall to violate the commitment of the founders? Ben Gurion liked the haredim more than Yair Lapid, for one, but above all, Ben Gurion understood he wouldn't be able to coerce the haredim to deviate from tradition. How did Yesh Atid think they could impose a change in the content of studies on Jews? This is their interpretation of a Jewish and democratic state?"
The previous law was slated to take effect in the beginning of next year, but the coalition agreement made between the haredi parties and the ruling Likud party with the formation of the new government stipulated the law's repeal. The new legislation is being promoted in coordination with Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Source within the political system estimate that the bill will easily pass the second and third readings (after which it becomes law) as early as next week, before the Knesset disperses for its summer break.