Thursday, June 17, 2010

Courts should not interfere - really?

Elements in the Israeli Ashkenazi haredi community have been resisting integration of Ashkenazi and Sefaradi students in their girls' schools. They claim that the integrated schools do not meet their religious standards; their real fear seems to be that their daughters might be exposed to Sefaradi customs that are strange to Ashkenazim but well within halakhic norms, such as eating kitniyot on Pesah. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the girls must attend the integrated schools. According to Arutz Sheva, some parents are prepared to go to jail rather than send their daughters to ethnically integrated (but still haredi) schools. Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Chief Rabbi of Beit El, called on people to attend a haredi-sponsored mass rally supporting the parents in their defiance of the Court. As he says, they should "protest the intervention of the Supreme Court in educational matters." Huh? That is precisely the Court's job. Ever heard of Brown vs Board of Education?

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Anonymous Garnel Ironheart said...

I think the Chareidi concern, and we should all worry about it too, is that if the court intervenes in this matter, where does it end?
If the court decides (and in Israel, unlike America, the Supreme Court has this kind of power) that separation of men and women during prayer is illegal, then what do we do?
I am told that a few years ago the court actually heard a case about whether or not to outlaw circumcision but because of the fear of Arab protests they dismissed the complaint.
Sure, today it's the easy issue of Ashkenazim vs Sephardim and we can all see the merit of the court's position but tomorrow it might not be so easy.

Thu Jun 17, 12:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Neandershort said...

The power of the Supreme Court has to be circumscribed, along with that of other branches of government. In the U.S. we did that with a written constitution. In Israel the religious parties resist the idea because the Torah is our constitution. That would be true in an ideal world but not in the one we have. Most Israelis are obviously not ready for a medina al pi Torah. Heck, I'm not ready for it myself as long as R. Elyashiv and his clique of doddering old fools are in charge of the system.
In the meantime, we can either go with the British system where powers of government are defined and limited by framework legislation and agreed-upon custom, or if that fails and the Court oversteps its bounds, defy it with peaceful civil disobedience, e.g. continuing to circumcise our sons and filling the jails if necessary. As you (Garnel) yourself state, we have not reached that point yet.

Fri Jun 18, 02:09:00 PM EDT  

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