Al-Monitor

Are Israel's ultra-Orthodox schools following Jewish values?

Ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi leaders of rabbinical schools discriminate against Mizrahi students because they fear a more open-minded influence on their conservative educational system.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish children sit in class at the Shomrei HaHoma Torah School for boys in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, Nov. 9, 2010. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

In 1982, Rabbi Nissim Ze’ev of Jerusalem wanted to register his daughter at an Ashkenazi seminar for girls. He applied to a prestigious girls-only ultra-Orthodox middle school but was turned down. Ze’ev was taken by surprise. At the time, he was already considered a well-known figure within ultra-Orthodox circles, having served as a rabbi both in Mexico and New York. He then realized that the problem stemmed from his family’s Mizrahi origins; he was born in Jerusalem to parents who emigrated from Arab countries. And so, Ze’ev decided to create a school in which girls from Mizrahi families would be accepted. When he tried to raise money from the Jerusalem against the very community it is supposed to represent.

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