Aug 31, 2014

Haredi activists try to take school building, renewing old fight

The fight regarding the building of the School of Languages and Culture located in RBS is not new. The school is situated in a building that can educate, supposedly, up to 500 children. The school has 140 children under its responsibility. It seems to have classrooms that just are not used at all - they are kept locked. But they have the building, as an old allocation.

The school is situated in a religious neighborhood of RBS A. One might justifiably say RBS A is Haredi, but it is at least mixed religious, with a majority of Haredi residents. the immediate area around the school is mostly Haredi, though I am not sure that is a real factor, as a number of the other school buildings in that immediate area are also non-haredi. And there are many Haredi institutions located in buildings on the older part of Bet Shemesh in non-Haredi areas, and the students are bused in. It is not a great argument, that the building must be given priority for local needs, but in this situation there happens to be a severe shortage for local institutions.

The Haredi community has long been upset about this, saying there are Haredi schools bursting at their seams, overflowing with children, using caravans and temporary structures, while this school, with kids largely being bussed in from other parts of the city, cannot even fill the building they have are under-using a valuable resource in the middle of an area where the local kids dont have school buildings.

The non-Haredi say it is a regional school, the former Minister of Education Gideon Saar authorized it to be kept in use by this school, they have had it and it cant just be taken away, etc.

I happen to agree that the authorities should find a way to allocate the school buildings more efficiently and give the buildings to the schools that need them. If this school is not using the building entirely, it should perhaps be shared with another school in a similar situation. Or with a new school that does not have so many kids yet. Or the school can be relocated to another, smaller, building, and this building be re-allocated based on need.

Unfortunately, our city leadership is not blessed with vision or skills for planning long term. Instead of working on this, the problem has been festering for years already, they just try to use force to get things the way they want, or think should be.

They could call a meeting in the Iryah about it, put it up to a vote (which will have an automatic majority), pressure the government, meet and negotiate arrangements with the school board and the relevant parents associations...

Today, some Haredi city councilmen went down to the school with city workers and acted like they are forcefully taking over the school. Police were called in, another non-haredi city councilman got involved opposing them, Words got heated. Police kept everyone apart. Nobody was arrested.

As I said, I think the right thing to do is find a solution to free up the building and allocate it to a local school that needs it.

My complaint here is that they show up the day before school starts and claim the building forcefully. Where were they the past two or three months during summer vacation? Couldn't this have been dealt with over the long vacation? Why the day before Opening Day? And why not already be dealing with this even longer than over the 2.5 months vacation? For the past year, or 3 years, have they been working on a solution? or do they just plan to show up every few years right before opening day and try to take the school?

The Regional Director of the Ministry of Education later sent a letter to Mayor of Bet Shemesh Moshe Abutbol saying that they oppose such a unilateral decision, and express bewilderment that such a decision to initiate such a sensitive action would be made just days before the opening of the new school year.
source: shopping

The Iryah response claims it is their job to be concerned for the education fo children from all sectors, and this building is underused. Being that they are owners of the property, they have the right to go in and do what is necessary and they did not break in or act forcefully. They add that they invited the principal of the school to meetings a number of times, but she never came.

The principal responded to that by saying she was only invited to a meeting about it once, on August 25th (less than a week ago. She says she arrived 10 minutes early to the meeting, and waited an hour. The secretary contacted the Director of City Hall, who said he has another meeting. At that point she left. She was called later and told that they decided in the meeting that the Mishkenos Yaakov school would use the building. She contacted the Board of Parents and it then went to the Regional Director of Education, the Board of Parents and the Minister's office, for further action.
source: shopping

This is how they shoot themselves in the foot. This is what happened a few years ago. They turned it into a big fight at the last minute, and the Minister of Education had to support the school instead of the thugs, and no solution was found. Now too - instead ow working toward a solution, they shoot themselves in the foot by acting like thugs, and then it will come back to hurt them. Is this regional director going to help them now? Is this going to delay a solution by another few years?

Update : the director general of the ministry of education has now sent a threatening letter to abutbol saying that if he continues with such types of activities rather that acting according to the rules of the MoE,  and in coordination with the MoE,  the MoE will absolve itself off all its commitments to the educational system of the city of Bet Shemesh. 

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  1. *Mishkenos Daas.
    I'm split about this. I live literally down the block from the vocational school. My daughter instead has to walk 4 blocks away to her school Mishkenos Daas. Her school does not have room for everyone, and its a huge problem, effecting the ability of the school to have room for its activities, play time, tutoring rooms, and chugim, not to mention classrooms. Logically, the vocational students should be moved to a more local location for them, where they can save money on buses, and the school space should be used more effeciently.

    That being said, the iriya members are not doing anything new. In other run ins i've seen they have, they do the same. Lie about meetings and cancel and move them around at the last minute. I'm ashamed to say that I hope they work it out, but they absolutely must find a better way to get what they want. Montag's moto in the election was: "getting things moving". Ironically, he can't seem to get things moving, except his embarrased face out the courtyard of the school vandalized.

  2. Well, you reap what you sow. When poor planning and last-minute acts of thuggery get are rewarded, you ensure the perpetuation of poor planning and thuggery.
    Way to go, RBS!

  3. As Rafi pointed out this school has been underutilized for years. Really it is the thugs who continue to demand the "rights" to use it no matter how underutilized it is that are to blame.
    Just like those who demanded their daughters' "rights" to a brand new school are really to blame for what happened with the Orot.
    But no matter, as long as you their are Chareidim around to pin the blame on, everybody will.

  4. Where is the unity (achdut or even achdus), that we had the whole summer, when the threat of rockets above our heads was so real? Even the Iriya joined in, and this is the place to thank the iriya for organising cleaning bomb shelters in old Beit Shemesh that were not used for 40 years! However, the external threat is resting (not disappeared), so we can can attack each other again, and all this in Elul. The call of the shofar is to wake up to the danger, ust like the siren warning of the rockets, don't ignore it, and may we in Beit Shermesh be worthy of the peace we so much need, with our enemies and amongst us.

  5. Exactly Meir, Why aren't we all standing with our duly elected (2 times or 3 depending on how you want to look at it) mayor and end this travesty of a wonderful school being held hostage.

  6. My sister has a daughter in Mishkenos Daas. She called me up very upset this morning. Apparently, in order to avoid a fight over the summer, the Iriyah kept their plan a secret and went into Safot V'Tarbuyot yesterday. Last night, my sister received a recorded message at 9 PM! at night saying that the Iriyah decided that all 4th and 5th grade girls (my niece is in 4th grade), must go to Safot V'Tarbuyot for classes today "b'livui ha'avot.". This upset both her daughters - her 2nd grade daughter who has been planning the whole summer that she would walk to and from school with her older sister, and her 4th grade daughter who is scared to go to a school where she is not wanted.

    To quote my sister, "why are they using my daughter to fight their fights? Why couldn't' they have told us about this a month or two ago, so it can be taken care of and we could prepare our children? Mishkenos Daas need more classrooms; however, the way to get them is not by using young girls."

    She also said that Mishkenos Daas was granted land by Misrad HaChinuch a year ago to build a building; however, the Iriayh has not started building (and appears not to have any plans to build) since other schools have caravans on that plot of land and they say they have no place to put those caravans during building. The Iriyah seems to have decided that they prefer to fight over Safot Vtarbuyot using children then deal with this issue in other ways.

  7. it is clear a solution needs to be found. it is clear that solution should most likely include moving the safot vtarbuyot school to a different location (give them a good building elsewhere, not a dump, and they'll probably agree to go). instead of looking for reasonable solutions, they have been so dead set on doing it this way for the past 5 years that this is the only way they can possibly function.

    it is a shame they used the kids like this.

    and what about the 100 classrooms Abutbol has approval to build, and has money in the bank for it already. He has had that sitting on the side for years, yet hasnt moved an inch on it.

    We have had a haredi Iryah for over 6 years. At a certain point we have to stop making claims of anti-haredi discrimination

  8. They have all summer to plan, but they wait until the last minute. They know in advance how many students they have and where the classrooms are. They should have been able to work all this out months ago.

  9. I hope the parents of kids in this secular chool to not have havganot OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOO with the kids INSIDE. They should NOT do anything against the kids the way the haredi side did in Orot (2011), Ulpanta GIla (2007-2008) and Etrog (on Nachal Gilo, 2001) where they havagnot OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOOLS with KIDS INSIDE. These havganot included all of the 'trappings' - i.e. shofar, tehlillim etc

  10. They made a whole parade down sorek. i saw them go down and then back up again an hour later. they were yelling the voting slogans. they also were yelling into the windows of my daughters class today when she was there. there were not a lot of people. maybe about 30?
    pathetic if you ask me. the rooms are sitting empty.


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