Jerusalem to Withhold Funds if School Doesn't Accept Four Mizrahi Girls

Finance committee says the seminary must stop discriminating against Jews with roots in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Jerusalem municipality’s finance committee says it won't allot funds to an ultra-Orthodox girls’ seminary if the school does not stop discriminating against girls of Mizrahi Jewish origin.

On Sunday evening, the committee ruled that a NIS 2 million construction budget for the Darchei Rachel seminary in the Givat Shaul neighborhood would not be transferred if the school refused to accept four girls with roots in the Middle East and North Africa.

The girls from Givat Shaul, sisters of current students at the seminary, have been sitting at home during the school year even though the municipality’s education authority has demanded that the school accept them.

On Sunday night the committee said the girls had to be accepted by Thursday night, when the city council meets. “We withheld their budget because of discrimination. They have [until Thursday] to make a decision,” said committee chairman David Hadari.

After other attempts at persuasion failed, the municipality’s legal adviser, Amnon Merhav, wrote a legal opinion stating that budgets could not be transferred to a school that practiced discrimination.

Council member Asher Mishali (Shas) led the fight on the girls’ behalf. “I hope we won’t have to withhold the budgets and that the principal will accept the outline proposed to him," he said. "I waged this struggle to make an example so that other schools would learn their lesson and stop discriminating.”

Council member Laura Wharton (Meretz) applauded the decision as well. “The time has come to end this blatant discrimination and use the tools of imposing fines and withdrawing support," she said. "I hope this is just the beginning.”

Daniel Bar-On