Bennett Set to Appoint First Haredi to Higher Education Council

The council has been trying to encourage more ultra-Orthodox people to pursue academic degrees.

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Ultra-Orthodox youngsters on the backdrop of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

For the first time, an ultra-Orthodox representative will be appointed to the Council for Higher Education, the supervisory body for universities and colleges in Israel.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the Council for Higher Education, is currently busy appointing members of the next council. They will assume their posts once the current council ends its term at the beginning of 2017. For the first time, included among the new members will be an ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) one.

Bennett will seek approval for the appointment of Yisrael Tik, who until recently held the education portfolio in the Haredi city of Beitar Illit. Tik is currently the head of development and external relations at the Beit Yaakov Institute and a research fellow at the Haredi institute for Public Affairs.

Tik, born in 1970, is a father of five who lives in Jerusalem. He graduated from the Nachlat David Yeshiva and has a degree in higher Torah education, awarded by the Chief Rabbinate. He also has a BA in education and a teaching degree. He has substantial experience in education and teaching. Nevertheless he is not part of the academic world and will be appointed to the council as a representative of the public.

In recent years, the Council for Higher Education has been making attempts to incorporate more ultra-Orthodox people into higher education, as part of an effort to recruit them to the work force. This issue has evoked many disputes and much criticism, mainly due to the Haredi demand to institute gender-segregated classes, seen by many academics as undermining the principles of equality which underpin the academic world.

Bennett has been trying for a long time to appoint a Haredi public figure to the council. He says that “it’s about time that the voice of the Haredi community is heard around the council’s table. As in the school system, in higher education as well skills and capabilities were not bestowed on one group more than on others. One can’t, on one hand, declare that recruiting the ultra-Orthodox to higher education is a national goal while on the other hand exclude them from decision-making bodies. I’m convinced that Yisrael Tik will enrich discussions at the council due to his professional background and to his deep familiarity with the needs of the Haredi community.”

The Council for Higher Education is the body that allocates government funding to the country’s various universities and colleges and is also the organization authorized to grant academic educational accreditation.

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Haredi institute for Public Affairs as the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.