Rachel Azaria
Rachel Azaria ,Hadas Faroush, Flash 90

MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) became the center of controversy Thursday night when she spoke at a special dinner at the Chachmei Lev (wise of heart) haredi yeshiva high school Thursday night.

Chachmei Lev, which was founded by Rabbi Bezalel Cohen, differs from many other haredi yeshivas in that it teaches its students secular subjects in high school. This approach has been criticized by certain sectors in the haredi community that believe that boys should dedicate themselves to Torah study full time, the haredi Kikar Shabbat news website reported.

The yeshiva dedicated a new building Thursday night. MK Azaria attended the dinner and gave a speech to attendees in which she praised the yeshiva's innovative approach to combining Torah and secular studies.

Azaria also tweeted: "I'm at the opening of Yeshivat Chachmei Lev. This haredi yeshiva high school is a breakthrough which combines Torah studies with secular studies. Rabbi Bezalel Cohen leads [the yeshiva] with much love for the Torah, the people, and the state."

Her speech elicited criticism from within the haredi community. Rabbi Shlomo Brillante, the director of the organization of yeshiva leaders in Israel, said: "It is a disgrace for an institution which claims to be haredi to allow a woman to give a speech in the Beit Midrash in front of the students, and to call that place a yeshiva."

Rabbi Cohen thanked Azaria for helping the yeshiva obtain funding and support during her tenure as a member of the Jerusalem city council. He said that no students had attended the dinner, as they celebrated the dedication of the new building two weeks earlier when the mezzuzas were set up.