In the upcoming issue of B'Sheva, the weekly publication brings to light a shocking revelation about events that took place in a religious elementary school in Israel. The affair raises questions about the systemic mismanagement of a sensitive issue for the general public and religious sector in particular.
The affair came to light after parents contacted Roni Sassover, Chief Executive Officer of the 'Meirim' social welfare organization, telling her that about a month ago, they accidentally found out that one of the students happens to be a girl taking on a male identity.
When concerned parents contacted the school administration, they learned to their astonishment that staff was well aware of the secret but had knowingly withheld the information.
After learning of the deception, enraged parents sharply criticised decisions made by the school which, in their opinion, "abandoned their children." Parents of the student's classmates claim that the conduct of the school staff runs contrary to the values of the religious school system, risking their children discovering the truth about their classmate by accident and without any prior preparation.
When "Meirim - Enhancing Tradition" tried to contact the Ministry of Education, religious school administration, municipal authority, and school board, it received no response, while B'Sheva, which sought to understand the religious school system's policy on the matter, got a short reply on the issue at hand.
This week's publication raises serious questions regarding the religious school system's policy with regards to cases of this nature, and likely issues that can arise due to its hiding of sensitive information from school children and their parents.
"How did the school system and Ministry of Education plan on dealing with this issue, which happened to be a 'ticking time bomb' as parents of students in the class referred to it, and why did they allow the concealment and silencing for such a long period of time?," asked Attorney Roni Sassover. "We at 'Meirim', are waiting for answers to these questions," she said.
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief Rabbi of Tzfat (Safed) and member of the Chief Rabbinical Council, commented on the case: "A situation where a man [masquerades] as a woman or vice versa must not be allowed in the religious school system," he said.
"The issue is being closely handled by the Ministry of Education, together with all the relevant professionals in the Ministry, and in accordance with our [general] policy," read a statement by the Ministry of Education. "Due to reasons related to individual privacy, the Ministry cannot expand on the matter. The claim attributed to the handling of the matter by Ministry officials is irresponsible and lacks any credence," it concluded.