JERUSALEM (JTA) — Haredi Orthodox fathers who defied a court order to send their daughters to an integrated Ashkenazi-Sephardic school were released from jail.
Sunday’s decision by the Israeli Supreme Court came after Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the Slonim rabbi, Shmuel Berezovsky, the spiritual leader of the Ashkenazi families who refused to send their daughters to the Beit Yaakov school in the West Bank town of Emanuel, agreed on a compromise.
Under the deal, the Ashkenazi and Sephardic girls will spend the last three days of the school term this week attending classes by rabbis and educators about unity and love of Israel. The compromise satisfied the state prosecutor and Noar Kahalakha, the organization that filed the original lawsuit in the case, Haaretz reported.
The Ashkenazi parents will establish their own school beginning next year.
The fathers were released Sunday afternoon after spending more than a week in jail. Some mothers of the girls were supposed to enter prison following the completion of their husband’s sentences. More than 1,000 supporters greeted the fathers at the entrance to B’nei Brak, where they were taken by bus following thier release to receive blessings and hold a march through the city.
The jail sentences were ordered after parents failed to desegregate a girls school in Emanuel in which the Slonim Chasidim parents kept their daughters separate, going so far as to have separate entrances and a dividing wall through the school’s courtyard.
After the courts ordered the school to remove the separation, the Chasidic parents kept their children home from school. The case has gone through months of court hearings, rulings and mediation, culminating in the court’s decision to jail the parents. The court said the parents had racist reasons for segregating the children, but the parents said the differences are in religious observance.
Meanwhile, during a Saturday sermon, Yosef said there is discrimination in Ashkenazi schools and that Sephardic children should not study in them, Ynet reported.