(JTA) — The Ethiopian-Israeli community is protesting discrimination by three Orthodox schools in Petach Tikvah.
The Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews called Thursday for action against three private religious schools in the Tel Aviv suburb that have refused to admit several Ethiopian-Israeli children for the coming school year, the Jerusalem Post reported.
"To our great sorrow, the children of the Ethiopian olim are not allowed to enter the gates of some of the religious educational institutions in Petach Tikvah," the organization wrote in a letter addressed to the Chief Rabbinate. "We would ask the honorable chief rabbis: Are these children, whose parents underwent a stringent process of conversion for two or more years, not good enough to study in all the religious and haredi schools in Petach Tikvah?"
Israeli President Shimon Peres said the schools’ decision to deny admission to children from the Ethiopian community was a "disgrace no Israeli can accept," according to Ha’aretz.
Government officials have been debating ways of cutting off funding for the schools — which despite being private rely on support from the government — unless they reverse their decision.
The three schools have responded by claiming children from the Ethiopian community require more time and funds than other children to bring them up to academic standards.
Moti Zaft, the acting mayor of Petach Tikvah, told Army Radio that he believes separate classes should be held for Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian children so that each can student can receive education that best serves their needs.