World of Judaica Jewish News exclusive: In what is turning out to be one of the biggest challenges to Supreme Court authority in Israel’s history, tens of thousands of Haredim, Ultra Orthodox Jews, are planning to take to the streets in Israel and cities in the Diaspora in an effort to show massive support for the parents of schoolchildren in Emanuel, Israel.
Yesterday, June 15, the Israeli Supreme court handed down its ruling that all parents of Beis Yaakov schoolchildren in Emanuel who refuse to implement the court’s previous ruling that education tracks separating Ashkenazi and Sephardi students must be unified, will serve a two week jail sentence. The parents, and particularly the mothers—many of which are pregnant and/or nursing—have refused to give in to the court’s demands, and have said that they would rather go to jail.
Supporters of the Supreme Court’s ruling claim that the separation between Ashkenazi and Sephardi students is racist and ethnically based and therefore illegal. The defendants claim that it is religiously based, and that even if it were ethnically based and illegal, the court has no authority to put them in prison, but only to take away government funding for the school.At the end of the hearing, the crowd broke into chants of Shema Yisrael, and Utzu Etza VeTufar ki Emanu-el, meaning, “All evil decrees will vanish, for God is with us,” being a pun on their Samaria town, Emanuel.
One of the representatives of the parents was quoted as saying, “All red lines have been crossed. There is no going back now. We will march with our head held high to prison. We will don holiday attire befitting those who merit sanctifying the Name of God in throngs. We are not against the State,” he added, “but it is no secret that we are more attentive to the Torah ruling than to the opinion of judges, as honorable as they are.”
As the parents quickly scramble for foster families to take care of their children while carrying out their sentence, tens of thousands of Haredim from Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Ashdod are expected to march with and escort them to prison in a massive show of force against the High Court.
The ruling comes just one day after the court forbade the guaranteeing of stipends for fulltime Yeshiva students, a ruling that has already riled the Haredi community.Haredim from outside Israel are also planning on rallying in New York and Montreal in support of Emanuel parents, and even many non Haredim in the Religious Zionist sector are preparing to march with them in a show of support against the High Court.
The High Court has been under attack in recent months, its President Dorit Beinisch even being the victim of a shoe throwing attack four months ago.
The Israeli Supreme Court is the only court in the Western world that essentially elects itself, its own judges deciding who gets to fill in vacancies on the bench. This method of selection has greatly angered those population sectors in Israel who do not feel their values are being represented in the court, and feel that under the current system, the chances that they ever will be are slim to none.