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Apr 13, 2010

an end to discrimination

One of the common problems in the Haredi school system, more common in the girls schools, is that every year numerous girls are left out, not being accepted to the schools they applied to - sometimes with that being the only local school available for them (in the haredi network, that being the system they wish to be in).

There are many reasons a girl might not be accepted to a school. The most common of the reasons is race related. Usually that would be girls of sefardic descent not being accepted to schools dominated by, and controlled by, ashkenazim. There are other reasons, but this is the most common. Many schools have quotas how many sefardim they accept - 2 per class, 20% per class, etc.

Every school that is opened and provides a solution to the girls who could not get in elsewhere, is a blessing, and opening such schools when needed should be encouraged.

However, when a new school opens, specifically to solve the problem for sefardi girls, it seems a bit much to praise it as the solution to, and the end of, racial discrimination in the schools.

Such a school is opening up in Beni Braq, to solve the problem for sefardi girls who will not be accepted in the other schools, read: Ashkenazi schools, they will be applying to. Instead of sitting at home crying because they have no school to go to, they will be able to go to this new school. (source: Kikar)

That's wonderful. But the opening of a sefardi school is not the "end to discrimination and racism", but a perpetuation of it. "The end of discrimination" would be to accept the girls into an ashkenazy school, or to open a school that accepts both equally with no quotas and no limits.

To open a school for the sefardi girls to go to after being rejected from the ashkenazy school is wonderful - but it is not an end to the discrimination.


  1. How many ways can you say 'despicable'?

    Ashkenazi discrimination and paternalism towards Edot Hamizrah has long been a disgusting problem. The Labour party elitists displayed it in the fifties and sixties, and the haredi folks suffer the exact same disease. Disgusting.

    Every beit midrash I learned it was a natural mix; both students and rabbanim. It was a great blessing from every aspect of learning and socially.

    Of all the problems we have today, this one may embarrass me the most.

  2. You're right, Raf. A real solution would have been if the new school accepted both.

    But does this discrimination only manifest itself in schools or does it extend into their adult life as well? Let's say Sefardi girls go to Sefardi schools. What stops them from moving to a community with all kinds of Jews and befriending an Ashkenazi woman who lives next door?

  3. http://www.bhol.co.il/news_read.asp?id=16328&cat_id=1

  4. Now no ashkenazi will send their daughters to the new school (apart from the "nebbichs" who have no choice). So what happens is a tier system similar to the Indian caste system. The system stinks

  5. There is still plenty of racism against Sefardim. In 1995/6, before I was married, I shared an apartment with an Israeli guy in Yerushalaim. His parents were very well-off Ashkenazim and owned a few apartments in Yerushalaim, one of which was the one they gave to their son that I shared (and paid rent to the son). One time, and only one time, they invited me for a meal on Shabbat, and there was much conversation at the table about all sorts of topics, including politics, shuls, singles, etc. During a discussion about singles and shidduchim, the father (who appeared to be a very respectable family man, and businessman, to me at the time) made a comment including the phrase “Shvartze Chaya” to refer to Sefardim. I thought I didn’t hear right and said “Slicha” (excuse me), and he repeated it with no shame whatsoever, and he probably thought that being an Oleh I didn’t understand what he said. I hadn’t heard that phrase used anywhere since the late-70’s. I was really quite offended, and worse, I was disillusioned, because I thought that kind of racism was pretty much gone by the mid-90’s. Needless to say, I quickly extricated myself from that meal (regardless of all the potential shidduchim I would be missing) and never spoke to his parents again, nor did I ever accept another invitation from them. The other thing that was sad is that my flatmate brushed it off by saying that his father was a little “old fashioned” due to being part of a multi-generation Yerushalmi family. As if that is an excuse for overt racism! Late that motzai shabbat, I even called my parents in NY and asked my father if he still heard people using such language and he said no, not for 15 or 20 years, but that it was quite common when he grew up in the 40’s and 50’s in Israel. Of course, he also remembered how the Yekkes (us) were made fun of by the Sefardim and by various other Ashkenazim.


  6. Hi Mark,

    please tell me what you meant when you said "he also remembered how the Yekkes (us) were made fun of by the Sefardim and by various other Ashkenazim."

    What does Yekkes mean? I thought in reading your post that you are Sefardim, I must have misunderstood.

    Is Yerushalaim just another way to spell Jerusalem?

    Forgive me asking all of these questions but I very much want to learn about culture in Israel, even the difficult parts, plus I'm not Jewish and I don't know Hebrew so words and expressions need defining. : )

    I know, I could look all of this stuff up online but I'm tired of doing that. : ) I did look up "shvartze chaya". : ( I'm sorry you had to go through all of this. But at least you share it and this helps people understand how people are in this world and how this kind of bad behavior and hatred can be found everywhere.

    What's "Oleh" , "shidduchim" and
    "motzai shabbat"?



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