Not chosen: Toddler said banned from settlement daycare for not being Jewish
TIMES OF ISRAEL – A family residing in the northern West Bank settlement of Avnei Hefetz claimed their local school system discriminated against them by refusing to enroll their toddler in a state-supervised daycare because she is not considered Jewish according to Orthodox definitions.
Amit Hai Rubin and his partner, Sarah, a Kenyan national, told Haaretz that settlement officials and the school’s administration gave them conflicting explanations for their decision to obstruct the enrollment of their 2-year-old, Hila.
Rubin said that in March, when he went to register Hila in the settlement’s nursery school, school administrators told him that the family would have to be approved by the settlement’s admissions committee and the fact that their daughter was not considered Jewish would count against her.
Rubin appealed the process to the community’s rabbi, who told Rubin he believed Israeli law allowed state-run religious schools to deny admission to non-Jewish children.
Then, in May, Rubin said he approached a representative from the Economy Ministry regarding the issue, who investigated the alleged discrimination with Avnei Hefetz officials. The official reported back to the family that Hila wouldn’t be able to enroll in daycare in the upcoming school year due to lack of space.
“All along various officials in the settlement led the girl’s father to understand that his daughter was not welcome in the the day care center and that her status as a non-Jew was the problem,” the Rubins’ lawyer Suny Kalev said of the incident.
In response, Avnei Hefetz released a statement claiming Hila was turned away because Rubin requested a mid-year placement for his daughter, and the program was already full. The settlement leadership rejected claims of discrimination and invited the Rubins to enroll their daughter for the upcoming school year.
The Samaria Regional Council, which includes the settlement of Avnei Hefetz, released a statement as well saying it “insists upon equality of rights and duties toward all its residents.”
The report noted that while Avnei Hefetz schools are run by the settlement, they are supervised and funded by the state.
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