The Jerusalem Post
Chief rabbi pooh-poohs science, math studies
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef described the school core curriculum studies program as “nonsense” and said pupils should study in yeshivot instead where only religious studies are taught.
“There is nothing like the holy Torah, the Torah is above everything,” said Yosef in a recent synagogue address, first reported by the Kikar Shabbat news website. “If a pupil is asked where do you want to go, a yeshiva high school [where religious studies are taught together with the core curriculum] or a holy yeshiva, there is no doubt, a holy yeshiva, there is no doubt.
“There they learn Torah without secular subjects, without the core curriculum, without all this nonsense, they sit and learn.”
Added Yosef proudly: “I myself, did I learn the core curriculum? Did I finish school? Until today I don’t have a graduation certificate, not a high school diploma and not a graduation certificate, did I miss anything? It’s nonsense, the most important thing is our holy Torah.”
Critics accused Yosef of promoting dependence on government handouts and charitable donations instead of advancing self-reliance.
The large majority of ultra-Orthodox boys do not study the core curriculum of math, English, science and computer studies at elementary school level, and the overwhelming majority do not study this curriculum at high school level.
Socioeconomic experts have warned that this failure to provide a basic education to boys in the haredi sector combined with its high rate of population growth means the economy will be imperiled with an inadequate workforce for the 21st century.
Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah panned Yosef’s comments saying his “disparagement of yeshiva high schools is testament to how the chief rabbi is out of touch with the broader community that he is supposed to serve.”
The organization said Yosef had turned himself into the rabbi of a small group of people “who withhold from themselves and their children the possibility of getting an education and earning an income with dignity, and [instead] making them dependent on donations and cronyism.”
The organization said the comments demonstrated the need to drastically change the system of electing chief rabbis to reduce political influence and increase public influence over the manner in which the positions are elections.