Rafi has a fascinating post up at Life in Israel about a recent statement from the Israeli Rabbanim that condemns a Bais Yaakov school that is preparing its students for the Bagrut (the college entrance examinations).
The fear, apparently, is that girls who can pass a Bagrut exam will go on to (gasp!) university, and then on to the non-Hareidi workforce, where they would be exposed to ideas that are different from those that they grew up with.
This makes my blood boil like nothing else. I am incensed when the leaders of a society, any society, try to use their power to keep others down by denying them access to a good education.
There is something inherently wrong with a religious system that is so afraid to lose their children to the secular world that they hold on to those children by employing draconian methods of thought control. Is the beauty and attraction of Judaism really so weak that exposing girls to math, science, history, and languages would cause them to abandon their Yahadut and become secularized? This type of insular, backward, Taliban-type thinking is an insult to our children and an insult to our religion. Jewish men and women have historically been among the most educated members of nearly any Diaspora society that they have been a part of, and have still held on to their beliefs and traditions. I (and many, many women like me) have attended multiple universities, hold a bachelors and 2 advanced degrees, and am still maintaining a halachically observant household. How insulting it is to imply that good Jewish girls would bolt at the first taste of the "outside world"!
These rabbis need to learn to trust the members of their own communities a bit more.
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