The stereotype of Jews is that they’re highly educated, but of course that doesn’t hold for the ultra-Orthodox, whose females often don’t go to college and whose males spend nearly all their time studying the Torah, neglecting any other subject. It’s a waste of time and effort, but that’s religion, Jake.
Now Israel, to its shame, has enabled this neglect of education by approving the dropping of “core subjects” in Orthodox schools, allowing nearly full-time teaching of religion. These Orthodox can now remain blissfully ignorant of math and science (most of them already are creationists). As the Times of Israel reports:
Jewish studies are more important than learning mathematics and science, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday night.
Speaking in Caesarea at a conference of the TALI Education Fund, which provides a pluralistic Jewish Studies program for public schools, Bennett stressed the importance of Jewish education over secular subjects.
“Learning about Judaism and excellence in the subject is more important in my eyes than mathematics and the sciences,” said Bennett, “and it is hard for me to say that.”
The comments come months after controversy erupted over a government decision to drop its demand that ultra-Orthodox schools teach science, math and other core subjects in order to receive increased state funding.
Bennett had originally pushed against dropping the core subjects, but later bowed to coalition pressures.
“Even though [Israel] is a high-tech superpower, an exporter of knowledge and innovation to the world, we must [also] be a spiritual superpower and export spiritual knowledge to the world. This is the next chapter of our Zionist vision,” Bennett said. “In this way we will return to be a light to the nations. ‘For out of Zion shall go forth Torah and the word of God from Jerusalem.’”
What a pile of malarkey! No, Israel doesn’t need to be a spiritual superpower, especially since many Jews there are like me: atheists that are Jewish by culture alone. And it’s not just math and science that will be neglected:
Last month the Knesset rolled back a law that aimed to promote broader education by reducing funding to schools that did not teach core subjects. Bennett had initially supported the law, which was submitted by the Yesh Atid party and would have cut funding for ultra-Orthodox schools that do not devote a minimum number of weekly hours to core secular subjects such as math, English, and science.
However, in their coalition agreements following the 2015 elections, the ultra-Orthodox parties demanded the curriculum law be dropped. Bennett’s Education Ministry was then instrumental in amending the law. Instead of requiring the Haredi schools to teach 10 to 11 hours per week of secular studies, as the Yesh Atid law stipulated, the new bill gives Bennett discretionary power in funding those institutions.
And so, we have an advanced democratic country creating a parasitic subclass of those who contribute nothing to their society or to human knowledge in general—unless you consider “shining the light of Zion on other nations.” But they don’t even do that, for the ultra-Orthodox are notoriously reclusive.