Thursday, May 02, 2013

Secular Curriculum in Hareidi Schools

By Moshe Feiglin

I am completely with the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) who reject the State attempt to compel them to add a secular curriculum to Torah studies in their schools: Responsibility for the education of a child lies with the parents - not the state. The state may decide to whom it will award a matriculation certificate. But it is the full right of any individual to forgo that certificate.

Let's say that tomorrow, UTJ's Porush will be Prime Minister and will force you to learn a page of Talmud in the framework of a government-backed curriculum. What would you say? He thinks Talmud is more important than English. (I agree). If he would try to prevent you from getting government funding because you don't learn Talmud, I would oppose him. But if he would say that without Talmud, you don't get a matriculation certificate, that would be his democratic right.

I do not want - and am not allowed - to tell Ahmad Tibi what to teach his son. Or Litzman, or Dov Hanin.

Personally, I think that math, science and English are important. As a rule, a broad education is important. Furthermore, our Sages teach us that "a person must teach his son a trade." In other words, not teaching one's children these basic subjects comes close, in my opinion, to a breach of Jewish law. But it makes no difference what I think; what matters is what the parent thinks. They are not criminals and they can have a different opinion than me or the Education Minister.

Please do not confuse the issue by saying, "They don't have to learn the basic curriculum, but they will also not get government funding." The state is not doing anybody a favor. The money that it allocates is money that it has taken from the citizens. When the state allocates funds, it is essentially returning them to the people. If the government announces that it will no longer tax Haredim or any other group, then the totalitarian approach above would be reasonable. But to take and not to give, to take (by coercion) on one hand and to make the benefit from taxes paid conditional on adopting the state's world view - is a lapse into very dangerous totalitarianism. Truly Thought Police. It reminds me of the guy who robbed my friend of his coat on the subway in New York (it was 20 degrees below zero) and then demanded 5 dollars to give it back...

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