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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Religious Racism Redux

YNet has a story that updates a painful topic I posted about a few months ago - the discrimination against Sephardi students by Charedi schools in Israel. Apparently, despite the recent publicity the practice of Yeshivas and seminaries severely curtailing their acceptance of Sephardi students has received, the active discrimination has not abated. According to this story, a man was so distressed about his daughter's lack of placement in a seminary that his health was affected and he suffered a fatal heart attack:
Thus far, it sounds like another sad but familiar story of a forty-something man passing away before his time. However, the Haredi-Sephardic community in Jerusalem is convinced that the reason for his early death is a problem that plagues hundreds of the community's families.

"He ate his heart out that he couldn't get his daughter into the seminary of her choice," said one of Sofer's close friends. "In recent weeks, he was informed that his daughter could not study in the seminary that she desires. He kept saying that he couldn't handle it, that it would kill him – that's exactly how he expressed himself – that he couldn't bear his daughter receiving Torah instruction like the average girl."

Work colleagues said that, on the afternoon of his death, he spoke to them about the issue and appealed for their help: "I have no energy. You have to help ensure that my daughter gets into a good seminary."
While I would imagine that it would be hard to prove that this specific disappointment was the final cause of this man's death, I do not doubt that the stress of his daughter's rejection did not help matters. As the article goes on to point out, the problem of discrimination continues to plague the Sephardi Charedi community. As a lawyer who helps parents gain their children's admission states:
In Eitan's opinion, the reason Sephardic students are not accepted to the schools is a result of explicit racism. "Principals say clearly: 'we've filled the Sephardic quota'. This is open racism, they're not even trying to hide it, and it's one of the greatest injustices in the Haredi community," he says.
Whether or not this man's tragic death is determined to be a direct result of his daughter's denial of admission, this sad story of his resulting stress and disappointment in the weeks before his death will hopefully increase publicity for the plight of Sephardi students and the disgusting discrimination that continues to be perpetuated against them.

The YNet story of the young father's death is titled "Died of a Broken Heart". Whether or not that is the case, he certainly seems to have died with a broken heart.


Blogger Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

What exactly is the "justification" for this practice? Yes, I know its simple discrimination, but if you ask a school administrator, what's the official excuse?

11:10 PM  
Blogger JJ said...

That's a very sad story.

It really is unbelievable that this kind of discrimination is STILL going on, even as "intermarriage" between Ashkenazim and Sephardim is now an everyday occurence that barely raises an eyebrow. This is even starting to happen among haredim, though not to the same extent.


1:50 AM  
Blogger JJ said...

Er, just wanted to clarify that the discrimination is shameful, not the "intermarriage."

1:53 AM  
Blogger Cosmic X said...

"He ate his heart out that he couldn't get his daughter into the seminary of her choice."

Well, my daughter did not get accepted into the seminary of her choice, so, with a heavy heart she will go to the seminary that accepted her, even if it is less prestigious.

I am not Sephardi (my wife is ) and I will not get a heart attack about this. Neither will my wife.

2:40 AM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

"...and it's one of the greatest injustices in the Haredi community," he says."

...I wonder just how long that list is!

7:33 AM  
Blogger mother in israel said...

There is a perception in Israel that once a school has more than a certain percentage of Mizrachim/sepharadim the level of the yeshiva or seminary will go down. My husband had a sephardi friend who said that he would never send his daughter to a sephardi institution or an ashkenazi one with more than 30% sepharadim. In the charedi community a sephardi background is a definite minus on the shidduch scene and no matter how good a learner etc. such a bachur will not have a shot at the "best" or wealthiest ashkenazi girls.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...


10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that this is unfortunately rampant in Israel. I am a product of a sephardi father and ashkenaz mother and suffice it to say that I have friends of my parents with the same backround as me that changed (ashkenazicised) their names when they moved to Israel so that no one would know they were sephardic because of this issue (though for them it was elementary school). so sad....

10:24 AM  
Blogger mother in israel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

Not that I think it's fair.
But if the community as a whole suffers from this phenomenon, why don't they start seminaries specifically oriented towards Sephradi girls?

11:34 AM  
Blogger mother in israel said...

Trying again:

And by the way this is the case in the religious Zionist yeshiva high schools as well as elementary schools. Racism led to a tragic situation in my neighborhood: http://mominisrael.blogspot.com/2006/06/tale-of-two-schools.html

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interestingly enough,there is a charedi sephardi family with 5 daughters,good friends of mine.the father would not let his daughters even date a sephardi.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh come on! Do you believe this tripe? Newspapers love to play up this kind of thing. He probably died because he was eating 3 shwarma's a day and smoking like a chimney.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wake up wake up wake up

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the school didnt let in satmar girls would you post it as well?

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the school didnt let in satmar girls would you post it as well?

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the school didnt let in satmar girls would you post it as well?

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the school didnt let in satmar girls would you post it as well?

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the school didnt let in satmar girls would you post it as well?

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sephardim have a great heritage. They need to get rid of their inferiority complex and reclaim it. They should make quality institutions of their own that give Ashkenazim a run for the money, instead of trying to force their way into Ashkenazic ones. Ashkenazim have a right to set a quota, to preserve the Ashkenazi flavor of an institution that they founded and built up. However, it should be done with sensitivity.

I hope the people who are doing all this complaining voted for the Yahadut Hatorah party. Then maybe they have a right to complain. But if they voted for Shas, if they didn't want an Ashkenazi party representing them in Knesset, why do they want their daughter in an Ashkenazi institution ?

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Busted, I don't know where OM is, but I'm sure she will be deleting your comment shortly. It seems to me that this isn't the forum for you to do this. Start your own blog maybe?

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Om, where are you? Shouldn't busted's comment have to go?

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few thoughts -

1 - As mentioned, why dont Sefardim make their own schools? As noted here, as well as everywhere else where this issue is discussed, they are no less qualified than anyone else. They have great educators; a great heritage; greats kids; great families. AWESOME!! Now to make some great schools....

2 - Right or wrong, it seems based on the comments of this blog, and again, in other places as well, that being sefardi is a "minus" and is "looked down" upon in Ashkenazi schools. WHY do you want to subject your daughters and sons to being second class citizens every day of their life?

3 - I dont know of any school in Eretz Yisroel that has extra spaces and is not bursting at the seems. That being said, their is a feeling to "take care of your own" in the Ashkenazi community, and try to push the sefardim to open their own schools which can and will be competative in terms of the school. But these schools were set up originally for people of their community, and there simply isnt room for everyone. Those from a different community are the first to go. This is similar to places in America where there is a local school, which wont take kids from outside that community. Only here in EY you have multiple communities in the same city

4 - Satmar (or other sects of Chassidus) wouldnt take these sepahrdi girls either. MO / RZ girls either. There is no uproar about that. Why? BC you see a difference between RZ and Satmar. Between MO and Belz. Just because you dont see a difference between sefardi and ashkenazi charedim does not mean that one doesnt exist. How many "Eretz Yisroel'dik" Chareidim do you know? And do you think that your average EY cahreidi is that similar to your average sefarid chareidi? I live here, and while they are very nice, most Sefardim are quite different that their Ashkenazi counterparts.

5 - This final point is mostly relevant for elementary school kids: Lets remember that Ashkenazim and sefardim do a lot of basic things differently. I am not talking about Shechita, as were talking about 7 year olds. But they have a different nusach for davening. They have a different pronunciation. Why confuse the kids by having them daven one way in cheder and one way at home? Tuf at home and Suf in school? Why teach him whats mutar and assur for other people, and ignore his needs? Ahh, you'll say to let him daven his nusach, let him talk with a Tuf when he davens - thats not the way of the schools here. THIS is our way. If you want your derech, go ahead, in a different place.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

News flash!!!!
As of this post, R'Elyashuv has delayed the opening of the Israeli seminaries until this issue is addressed

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one learn that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

4:56 PM  
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