One of the several Emanuel pieces in Mishpacha this week concludes with one of the most helpful summaries I have seen to date. No posturing, no delusions. Enough open-mindedness to distribute blame and responsibility all around – and to dream of a better day. Let no one say that the haredi community stifled the voices of introspection.
It would be wrong for the chareidi community to point fingers at the Supreme Court and not take a moment for some serious introspection as to what this story means to us.
First of all, while the race allegations against the Slonimer community are wrong, we cannot whitewash the facts. There have been schools in which families weren’t accepted into the school for no other reason than their creed or background. It is very possible that the parents now in jail are serving a sentence because of the actions of some haughty school principals in other communities who ignore the calls ofgedolei Yisrael to run admissions based solely on academic standards and other objective criteria, such as tzniyus and the kedushah of the home.
The second lesson, then, is that there are no free lunches. When you take money from someone — and certainly when you take 90 percent of your funding from them — they call the shots.
Third, in regard to chareidi public relations efforts. Last week’s massive rally finally conveyed to the public at large the true issue in Emanuel. The chareidi community got the message out to the people, but it was too late. There should have been efforts — both in the Supreme Court and in the secular media — to tell the true story of Emanuel. Had the Sefardic parents whose children are enrolled in the chassidic track spoken earlier, much heartache could have been avoided. Furthermore, hiring a competent Sefardic lawyer to fight the case would have gone a long way towards convincing the court that the parents were not racially motivated.
The community as a whole failed, and parents from Emanuel are paying dearly for the failure.
And so, Thursday’s rally. According to police estimates, some 30,000 people filled the streets of Bnei Brak, and more than 100,000 participated in the rally in Jerusalem. The rallies carried an important message: when forced against the wall, the chareidi minority will not cave to the secular majority, and unless it is willing to exert full judicial power on religious Jews, the country will need to reestablish a system of respect and understanding of each other.
But only by learning the above lessons can the chareidi community in Israel hope to change the dynamics from within