On Wednesday, October 10, the Dushinsky chassidim celebrated the cornerstone laying for a new school building in Beis Shemesh, donated by the well-known philanthropist Hershel Herbst and his wife. The building will be built on a large lot adjoining another building in progress donated by Herbst, who was a close follower of the previous rebbe, Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Dushinsky (1921-2003).
Rabbi Yisroel Moshe was head of the Edah Chareidis, the rabbinate of the Old Settlement of Jerusalem, as was his father, Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky (1865-1948). The Eidah Chareidis as well as the Dushinsky movement are ideologically opposed to Zionism, and they maintain a system of independent schools and academies that accept no funding from the Zionist state. Currently the main Dushinsky community is located in the old Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, and is under the leadership of Rabbi Yosef Tzvi, son of Rabbi Yisroel Moshe. Another son, Rabbi Mordechai Yehuda, leads the smaller Dushinsky community in Beis Shemesh.
This Jewish year, 5768 (2007-8) marks thirty years since the establishment of the Keren Hatzola, the fund that support yeshivas and schools in the Holy Land that refuse all funding from the Zionist government. The fund was established in 1978 by Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, founder and leader of the Satmar community in New York, in reaction to the Zionist government's then-new policy of funding even those schools that taught only religious subjects.
Shortly after the Zionists founded their state in 1948, they passed the Law of Compulsory Education, which obligated all parents to send their children to state-approved schools. State-approved schools, even if religious, were required to spend a large part of their day studying Zionist history and ideology, as well as the modern Hebrew language and literature. These approved schools would receive funding from the state; no other schools were permitted. The Ashkenazic Orthodox community, which had been in Jerusalem for over 100 years prior to the state, as well the old Sephardic community, which had been there for much longer, struggled to find a way to escape this oppressive decree which would have effectively put an end to their entire educational system and forced their children into heresy and Zionism. Through the efforts of Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveichik (1887-1959), known as the Brisker Rav, the Zionists relented and agreed to insert a clause into their law stating that schools that did not comply with the state regulations would be considered "exempt institutions" and would not fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. These schools would, of course, receive no state funding.
This situation continued for almost 30 years, and generations of children in the original Orthodox communities in the Holy Land grew up with the traditional Torah education Jews had given their children for centuries, with no compromises and no Zionist influence. But when Menachem Begin came to power in 1977, he formed a coalition with the religious Agudath Israel party. The Agudah activists broke new ground by securing Zionist funding for the exempt institutions, with whose educational system Begin and his government promised not to interfere. Now Orthodox Jewry in the Holy Land was faced with a supreme test: would they accept the Zionist bribe and sacrifice their independence, or would they make the ideological statement that they wanted no benefit from the heretical Zionist enterprise?
Unfortunately, many schools and yeshivas did not pass this trial. Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, although then over 90 years old and very weak, undertook the founding of the Keren Hatzola fund to help institutions to withstand this test. With all the strength left in him, he exhorted Jews to be strong and not sell their educational system into the hands of the Zionists. Dozens of institutions heeded his call and tore up the government checks that arrived in their mail, unsolicited.
Today, Keren Hatzola helps support 110 independent schools in the Holy Land, where tens of thousands of boys and girls are educated in the traditional Torah way, with no secular studies, speaking only Yiddish, with no Zionist influence. The Dushinsky schools are among these.
In recent years the Zionist government has begun to interfere more and more with the chareidi institutions that receive its funding. The Ministry of Education formulated a plan under which all these institutions were to introduce heretical studies: Hebrew language, Zionist history and culture, and were to be funded in proportion to the amount of time their students spend on this program. Those yeshivas that continue to refuse to introduce these changes are seeing their funding drop from year to year. Recently, a new budget was proposed for 2008 under which the old-fashioned yeshivas would get only 38 million dollars, less than a quarter of what they received last year.
The heads of these yeshivas, who are by now not used to traveling constantly around the world raising funds (as the heads of independent schools are) are tempted to introduce some of the required material into their curriculum. Sometimes these religious Jews, in their ignorance, make the Zionist material even more insidious by producing new textbooks to teach it in a religious form, dressed up with verses from the Torah about the Holy Land transported into a Zionist context. For example, one girls school in Jerusalem teaches the history of Zionist colonization from a book entitled, "Live in This Land," a quotation from Genesis 26:3.
Thus the Zionists, by supporting religious schools for thirty years, have lured them into a financial trap. They have become dependent on the Zionist money, and now the educational system of hundreds of thousands of children is at the mercy of the Zionist Ministry of Education. This is not to mention the spiritual power of the bribe, which blinds the eye of even the most righteous and prevents them from seeing the heresy and the sinfulness of Zionism. Many of them do not even know what Zionism is, and believe that it merely means secularism or lack of Torah observance. Fortunate are those who have grown up with true independent education and have been taught to see the truth!