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Education Ministry makes teachers pledge they’re religious

New hires at government-run religious schools issued questionnaire on Jewish observance; several said dismissed for not meeting criteria

A religious school for girls in Gush Etzion, September 1, 2009 (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
A religious school for girls in Gush Etzion, September 1, 2009 (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The Education Ministry has issued questionnaires for teachers at government-run religious schools to determine their religiosity, and they are reportedly hired or fired on that basis in some cases.

According to a Channel 10 report published Wednesday, some new teachers have already been rejected from positions at religious schools because they said they didn’t meet the criteria.

According to the report, the Education Ministry disseminated questionnaires to all religious public schools, requiring new teachers to affirm their religious observance at home and in the workplace.

A copy of the form obtained by the TV station said that by law the questionnaire could determine whether or not a teacher or administrator could work at a school. The report said an unspecified number of new teachers have already been dismissed on the basis of their religious observance.

School administrators called the document “the questionnaire of shame.”

“It’d be interesting what would be said if at a secular school a teacher had been fired for keeping Jewish commandments or coming [to work] with a head covering,” an administrator told Channel 10.

Rabbi Uri Regev, head of Hiddush, a freedom of religion organization in Israel, said that while religious teachers instructing classes on religion was understandable, “it’s very difficult to understand how it’s relevant in mathematics, chemistry, biology or civics.” He called it “intolerable” that the government would demand only religious teachers work in religious schools.

The Education Ministry said in a response that “It’s obvious that teachers in religious education are religious. We’ve always assigned only teachers who’ve affirmed that they’re religious. As far as we know, no educational institution has fired teachers.”

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