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Friday, April 24, 2015 

Former Haredis sue over bad education system

Some ex-Haredis are suing over the poor job the state did in overseeing education in the Haredi school systems:
They were already in their 20s the first time they ever heard about dinosaurs or even tried their hands at maths and English.

Now a group of young Israelis who left the closed world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism are demanding answers from the state which funded their strictly religious education in Jewish seminaries, known as yeshivas.

Despite years of studying, all they were exposed to was religious texts and their interpretation, leaving them clueless about the basics of the national curriculum.

[...] In the yeshiva world, he says, everything is designed “to ensure that no doubt, however small, can sneak in” that could challenge blind faith.

Yet nagging doubts did crop up for this young seminarian — and they never went away.

“It happened that one Saturday night after the end of Shabbat I simply couldn’t bring myself to go back to the yeshiva — and I never did understand why,” he told AFP.

Although leaving the ultra-Orthodox world was hard, there was worse to come as Fink struggled to integrate into the secular — and elitist — university system with extremely limited skills.

In maths, he had the ability of a 10-year-old, his English went no further than the alphabet and he had absolutely no idea about history, geography or science.

What helped him was getting involved with a group called “Out for Change,” which counts around 300 members — all of them former ultra-Orthodox.

Formed with the express aim of taking legal action against the state, the organisation also runs courses for people who want to integrate into modern society.

But its members are mainly engaged in a lawsuit seeking damages from the state, which provides 75 percent of the funds for ultra-Orthodox education without demanding any supervision over what its 400,000 students learn.

“What did we study in the yeshiva? The Torah and its commentaries and that’s about all,” Fink said, referring to the first five books of the Bible.

Ultra-Orthodox girls have their own single-sex schools, and do learn lay subjects such as maths, history, sciences and languages, but not to a sufficiently high level to qualify for universities — coeducational institutions which contravene the ultra-Orthodox requirement for female modesty.

Keeping young women out of such an environment is a deliberate policy of the pious, say those who have left.
It's dismaying news, made only worse when you consider that the state never gave any oversight to these yeshivas. I wish them well with their lawsuit, and hope they can get some changes made for the better.

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