New York, NY, June 17, 2010 - Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President
of the Union for Reform Judaism, praised the Supreme Court of Israel for its
unequivocal condemnation of ethnic discrimination in an Israeli school in
Emanuel, and called on the Government of Israel to enforce, vigorously and
without delay, the Court's order to end the discrimination immediately.
"This is a moment of truth for the Government of Israel,"
Yoffie said. "The Court has affirmed yet
again the principle of equality before the law that is fundamental to Israel's
democracy, and it is my hope that the Government will stand behind the ruling."
Yoffie noted, "The Torah does not tolerate discrimination,
and those who promote discrimination in the name of Jewish tradition are
bringing the principles of Torah into disrepute and are undermining the Jewish
foundations of the State."
At issue is the policy of an ultra-Orthodox elementary
school in Emanuel that separated Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls and literally constructed
a wall in the school to keep the two groups apart. In its judgments, the Court has ruled that
this was a clear case of ethnic discrimination and that the students have a
right to study together. Ashkenazi
parents who refused to permit their daughters to study in the same classes with
their Sephardi peers were given two-week jail sentences. At the direction of their rabbis, tens of
thousands of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators took to the streets in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak
to protest the sentences and to demand that their children be allowed to study
Yoffie emphasized, "Any hesitation or compromise in carrying
out the Court's order will undermine the rule of law in the Jewish state and
will be a blow to all minorities that depend on the law for defense of their
"There is no reason why those who disagree should not
express their views," Yoffie said, "but the clear intention of the
demonstrators is to encourage their community to defy the rulings of the court."
According to Yoffie, "This is a time for Jews throughout the
world - including religious Jews of all denominations - to demand respect for
the law in the State of Israel and for an end to ethnic and racial
discrimination that is abhorrent to our religious principles."