Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Haredi children learning Gemora in school.

There are four primary arguments in Israeli Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) society as to why they refuse to include the “Liba” or the government’s core curriculum education in their school systems. The core curriculum’s classes include mathematics, computers, science and English, basic subjects that make it easier to join the modern work force.

In no particular order, the first objection is that Haredi society is fundamentally opposed to outsiders, particularly when its government outsiders, deciding and imposing on them what their children will be learning. This opposition has deep historical roots in Jewish society.


The second is that many in Haredi society prefer to live in a more insular environment for religious and social reason, especially when it comes to their children. They don’t want their children exposed to subjects or tools that will open break down those religious or social barriers, and certainly not before the parents feel the children are mature enough to deal with exposure to the secular world.

The third reason is that Haredim want to maximize their children’s Torah education time. Secular classes during normal school hours would reduce their time learning Torah (“Bitul Torah” in Hebrew).

And the fourth, though less common reason, is that some in Haredi society believe it is simply forbidden to learn secular subjects at all.

According to an Israel Democracy Institute survey mentioned in an Israel Hayom report, 44% of Haredi parents want their children to learn English, but outside of the school system, meaning the parents have no objections to their children learning core curriculum subjects if it doesn’t come at the cost of their children’s designated Torah education time, or that it is imposed on them from above.

The Finance Ministry is now mulling a plan to at least partially finance optional extra-curricular Liba classes (“Chugim” in Hebrew) that will teach Haredi children the core curriculum subjects. The classes would be taught by private organizations.

Offering the education after school hours and making it optional would remove many of the religious, social and ideological objections that Haredi parents have, especially, when the parents would be able to decide which specific Chugim and organizations they will send their children to.

Unlike former-Finance Avigdor Liberman constantly hitting the Haredim with a financial stick when the Haredim refused to have the Liba plans imposed on them, this new idea is all about the carrots, and has a much better chance at succeeding.


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