Haredi Jews in Britain Face Their Own Showdown with the Government over Schooling

As in both the U.S. and Israel, some Orthodox Jews in the UK worry that their schools will face governmental scrutiny for deviating from standard curricula. What is particular about the British case is that Ḥasidim are not only concerned about the introduction of secular studies, but also about sex-education requirements imposed by the Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted), the official body responsible for overseeing schools. Simon Rocker writes:

The government is looking to close a loophole whereby institutions such as yeshivot that teach an exclusive religious curriculum do not count as schools under the current legal definition and therefore escape Ofsted scrutiny. An estimated 1,500 strictly Orthodox teenagers of school age in Hackney—below the age of sixteen—are thought to be enrolled in yeshivot where they pursue purely Jewish studies.

If the Schools Bill [put before parliament, and likely to be tabled for the time being], were passed, yeshivot would be treated as independent schools and required to teach some secular subjects, as well as relationships and sex education, including LGBT awareness. Ofsted would get new powers to investigate unregistered institutions and home-schooled children would have to be registered with the local authority.

Defenders of the yeshivot argue that their educational system produces well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens, whose wits have been sharpened by years immersed in the classical education of Talmud; and that their youth can always take career-oriented training after they emerge from yeshivah. They will also point to efforts to improve secular tuition in strictly Orthodox primary schools in recent years (efforts, it has to be said, that have followed pressure from Ofsted). . . .

However, the demands of relationships and sex education remain a red line that only strengthens the resolve not to bow to the state. So far there has been no indication the government is willing to budge. As one senior education official in a council explained it to me, teaching about LGBT identity is a matter of safeguarding so that children who might experience feelings of difference might receive sympathetic treatment. Yet it could be argued that compelling ḥaredi schools to raise this in the classroom might not be the best way to support such children within those communities.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Haredim, Hasidism, Jewish education

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security