Family & Education

Charedi campaigners protest against ‘cultural genocide’

Defenders of traditional yeshivot return to Westminister to demonstrate against moves to register students


Charedi protesters in Westminster against a bill to register children not in school

Charedi campaigners against moves to regulate their education system have ratcheted up the rhetoric, carrying placards proclaiming “Stop Cultural Genocide” in the latest of a series of protests in Westminster.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered on Thursday on the first immediate day of Pesach to denounce what they believe would be undue state interference in their way of life.

Their immediate target is a Private Member’s Bill, making its way through Parliament with the support of the government, which wants local authorities to keep registers of children educated at home or outside school settings.

An estimated 1,500 boys aged 13 to 16 from Stamford Hill are thought to be learning in local yeshivot, which currently are not classified as schools.

A spokesman for the Rabbinical Committee of Traditional Charedi Chinuch [Education], which has orchestrated the campaign said the Bill was “not really about establishing a register for the welfare of children in the UK.

“It is a direct extension of the decade-long onslaught against the Strictly Orthodox Jewish community. Disguised as an attempt to promote tolerance and educational reform, the Department of Education has been engaged in relentless efforts to undermine our precious educational traditions, handed down over generations.”

The spokesman added: “Our Torah education is not only known for its safety and effectiveness but has a proven reputation of delivering a model of excellence. We cannot and will not give way to those who aim to reshape our identity, these efforts only instil fear and apprehension within our community, hinting at an ominous slide towards cultural eradication. Our Torah education is here to stay.”

The government had previously sought to redefine schools in a way which would have brought yeshivot under the inspection net — but the Schools Bill that contained the proposals was dropped at the end of 2022.

However, Education Secretary Gill Keegan has given her backing to the registration scheme promoted by Flick Drummond, the Conservative MP for Meon Valley in Hampshire.

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