Israel’s Ministry of Education is investigating a report that a female teacher in an ultra-Orthodox school was fired for obtaining a driver’s license. In certain sects of the Hassidic world, it is not considered acceptable for a woman to drive.
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According to the report, the woman had received special permission to acquire a driving license by a religious leader in her community because she has a severely disabled baby daughter who requires being driven around and her husband is unable to drive. The report was published in the ultra-Orthodox online news site Kikar Hashabbat.
The teacher who was fired, the report said, taught in Beitar Illit, an ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement. The only school for girls in this settlement (ultra-Orthodox women are not allowed to teach in boys’ schools) is Ma’asei Hagdolim. Its chief administrator, Binyamin Hirschler, is also a well-known local political activist.
Contacted by phone for comment, Hirschler told Haaretz: “I don’t give interviews, but this is really really not true.” He then hung up.
Although Ma’asei Hagdolim belongs to the independent ultra-Orthodox school system, it still receives the overwhelming share of its funding from the state budget.
“The Haredi division of the ministry is checking the details of this case,” a Ministry of Education spokeswoman responded, when asked for comment.
The Kikar HaShabbat report cited staff in the school as its sources. The teacher in question refused to be interviewed for the report.
A former resident of Beitar Illit, who remained well connected to the community, expressed surprise at the report, noting that it is common for women in this particular community to obtain their drivers’ licenses.