Leader of ultra-Orthodox Party Says Math and English ‘Never Advanced Israel’
The new leader of Israel’s main ultra-Orthodox party complained that budgets were withheld from the community over their refusal to teach math and English
United Torah Judaism leader Yitzhak Goldknopf said on Saturday that mathematics and English “never advanced the country” amidst controversy over the bid to compel the ultra-Orthodox to teach the core curriculum in the community’s school.
Speaking to Channel 12 News, the new leader of Israel’s main ultra-Orthodox party complained that budgets were withheld from the community over their refusal to teach math and English and quipped that “I didn’t see that mathematics and English advanced the country that much in terms of the economy.”
Goldknopf also discussed the Haredi community’s contribution to the economy, remarking that “There are ultra-Orthodox people in hi-tech. We are excellent in hi-tech.”
“I’m not saying this in future tense, but rather in present tense. Presently, there are a lot of ultra-Orthodox people in mathematics and in hi-tech in Israel, that are doing a lot for the country.”
The argument over teaching core curriculum in the Haredi community has led to fierce debate in Israel, and even within the different factions of United Torah Judaism.
Before every election, the Degel Hatorah party, which represents non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox Jews, has threatened to split from Agudat Yisrael, the Hasidic party, due to arguments over the allocation of slots on the UTJ ticket and Knesset and cabinet positions. Until now, Agudat Yisrael has always given in to Degel Hatorah’s demands.
But this time, the battle is being exacerbated by the Belz Hasidic sect’s efforts to get its boys’ elementary schools fully funded. That would undermine the “Lithuanian,” or non-Hasidic, movement’s control over the Haredi school system.
Currently, Belz schools receive only partial state funding because they teach only part of the core curriculum. In contrast, both Degel Hatorah’s Hinuch Atzmai schools and the Shas party’s Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani schools are fully government funded.