Top Rabbi Slams Higher Education for Haredim

Anshel Pfeffer
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Anshel Pfeffer

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv's camp in the Haredi world has come out vehemently against academic studies for Haredim, directly attacking the Haredi College, an institute established by the daughter of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Adina Bar-Shalom. The all-female college enables professional studies for Haredi women.

In recent years several Haredi institutions have tried to provide the community with a framework for professional, academic studies, understanding that young Haredi couples need such training to get into the advanced job market.

But some rabbis call the institutions illegitimate, claiming they encourage Haredim to leave the yeshiva world.

Yesterday's issue of Yated Ne'eman, the party organ of Degel Hatorah, the Haredi party that follows Eliashiv's rulings, carried a frontal attack on the Haredi College, which operates in Givat Shaul in Jerusalem, in cooperation with Bar Ilan University. Courses are offered in computers, education and communications.

The report quotes rabbis rejecting links between Haredim and the universities, claiming that it's a form of "haskala," a Haredi euphemism for religious persecution.

Eliashiv's followers say that the college, which has won approval from Shas rabbis and Ovadia Yosef, tells its students that Eliashiv has given tacit approval to the college.

Adina Bar-Shalom, who founded the college and heads it, refused to comment on the Yated Ne'eman report. A Shas spokesman said that "the college is under the supervision of the Shas Council of Torah Sages."

But sources in Yosef's family called the attacks "personal, not ideological," the result of competition between Shas and Eliashiv over an appointment to the Rabbinical Court, in which Adina Bar-Shalom's husband is involved.