Tuesday, June 27, 2006

State of Israel vs. Yeshiva University

Last year, an overly zealous clerk in Israel's Ministry of Education had a revelation -- Yeshiva/Stern College acknowledges college credits towards B.A. undergraduate degrees, based on up to a year of Yeshiva/Seminary study in Israel!

This finding is obviously, wholly unacceptable to Israel's Ministry of Education, since Yeshiva/Seminary study in Israel cannot possibly be worthy of the term "higher education" according to Israel's educational standards.

Despite what any clerk in the Education Ministry may say, Israel's refusal to accept YU's degrees is rooted in the blatant disdain of Yeshivot and Seminaries. This isn't just a matter of a bureaucratic, paper-pushing formality -- but a direct attack at Yeshiva University, the flagship Orthodox Jewish Educational Institution of the United States. Over a year has passed since this issue was promised to be resolved by Limor Livnat (the previous Israeli Minister of Education) yet YU graduates are still refused academic acknowledgement of their degrees.

Yeshiva University's President Joel addressed the Knesset's committees on education and immigration yesterday and said that this situation was "inconceivable, and moreover, unacceptable."

"We have wonderful graduates who are being punished by this bureaucratic nonsense," he said. "When I provide a degree to our graduates, should I warn them that if they are thinking of making aliyah, they need to first discuss the issue with seven different ministries? It's crazy. Should Americans start checking every graduate of Hebrew University before they come and study in the U.S.?" Haaretz

YU's degrees and college credits are universally accepted around the globe by some of the world's most prominent universities including Harvard and Yale, yet apparently, Israel's Ministry of Education has their own standards which exclude "Jewish education" from "higher academic" education.

One would probably have a better chance of transferring credit from the Yichiyeh Ayash School of Engineering at Ramalla Polytechnic, than YU graduates obtaining Israel's approval for their academic degrees.


JoeSettler said...

When I made aliyah I was told that I would need to go to some office to get my degrees approved.

I told them that my degrees really don't need their approval, and that you have to be incredibly provincial to not have heard of my school/college/university, so no thanks, I'll pass on your approval because I simply don't care about your system.

They really didn't like to hear any of that.

I also found it amusing that they differentiated between 'college' and 'university', as if for instance The Cooper Union (College) might be on a lower level than say Haifa University because one is a 'university' and the other isn't, or that you might have a degree from a college that is part of a university and therefore you would have gone to a college and not a university.

It reminds me that there are doctors here that like to be called professor. Personally, if I wanted a professor I would go to a college (or university), if I wanted a doctor, I'd go to a doctor. Call a 'professor' a doctor, and boy do they get insulted.

Everything has to fit in a box here sometimes.

Anonymous said...

That is insane!

Elie said...

Just out of curiosity, since this is the first I am hearing of this issue, what justification is the ministry giving for this nonsense? Do they have some official reason for not recognizing YU or is it openly an anti-religious move? Are there other universities that they don't recognize or is this solely focused on YU?

Not that I'd believe their rationalizations; just wondering if they even have any.

Ezzie said...

Ha - worse yet, I went to a branch of Touro! They take up to 48 credits! (That I'm graduating with like 150 doesn't matter.) See, this is why I can't make aliyah yet!

have popcorn will lurk said...

This sounds to me like an extension of the Israeli-rabbinate-not-recognizing-American-Orthodox-conversions issue.

I know, I know, they're not really related... The above is solely a religious issue, while "Israel's refusal to accept YU's degrees is rooted in the blatant disdain of Yeshivot and Seminaries" is a secular vs. religious issue.

But still, "Israel's refusal to accept YU's degrees" sounds uncomfortably similar to "The Israeli rabbinate will no longer accept American Orthodox conversions"...

(and yes, I also realize that the issue is being addressed and that the Joint Commission is expected to realease a report on 18 Elul)

It seems that Israeli institutions, secular and religious, are publicly showing resentment of American Orthodox institutions. Forgive me if I am stating the obvious - I am not "up" on Israeli politics!

Anonymous said...

What short memories these people have http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1137605935290&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Let me know when all this insanity goes away. Then I might start thinking about aliyah.

Anonymous said...

People who say that this or that is the reason they won't make aliyah, and as soon as this or that is fixed, they will think about it really get me mad.

We all know that you will never make aliyah anyway, and that this is just another pathetic excuse to stroke your ego and let yourself feel like it is OK not to make aliyah.

If you think that this is such a problem, come live here and CHANGE IT!

And guess what, you dont really need that degree recognition to get a job here. The government may be stupid, but the employers know what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, I went to YU, and I got the recognition from the Ministry of Education. I never needed it in real life, though...

YMedad said...

The degree recognition is for salary standards. You can be doing worthless work but if you have a BA, you are automatically bumped up on the pay scale.

Olah Chadasha said...

Another excellent reason not to go to Seminary and Yeshiva after high-school. I guess that's why my YU degree got accepted so quickly. No post high-school Israel experience for me. Of course, the Ministry is just kicking themselves in the a$$. Umm... unless they're complete morons, which I'm assuming they are, a majority of kids who go to the main-stream Yeshivot and Seminaries here after high-school end up going to YU. They bring in a ton of money to this country, and now the Ministry is basically saying, "Close your wallets and take that money some-where, because we won't recognize these programs later". Here's what I have to say to them:
"Sell crazy some-where else. We're all stocked up here."

Anonymous said...

Y'all are missing the point. This is not about YU, or about American orthodoxy, or about aliyah. It is about whether the Israeli government will have to recognize Israeli charedi yeshiva education in its pay scale.

Once they recognize YU's year-in-Israel credits, it will not be long before an Israeli charedi sues for equal treatment.

Whether or not you are sympatehtic to the charedi claim, there is big money involved.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the enlightening insight. I have actually contemplated making aliyah, but given the recent noise about acceptance of conversions (my husband's a ger), the President's recent dismaissal of branches of Judaism that are not orthodox (we belong to a non-OU-affiliated, egalitarian shul and are personally shomer mitzvot- like many of the others in our community) added to the mishegas that my friends who have made aliyah have told me about for years- why would I want to?

Ego? It has nothing to do with ego. Why would it? And the idea that when moving to a new country, I can (or should) demand that things change to what I think make sense, is ludicrous. Better to stay here, and we'll both be happy. It really is OK not to make aliyah, at least until I feel it's the right decision.

rockofgalilee said...

I think the University of Michigan also accepts yeshiva credits and I wouldn't be surprised if Harvard and Yale do to.

Ben Bayit said...

I personally have no problem in that the government refuses to recognize the first degree for pay scale purposes. That's their perogative - just like any other employer has the right to set salary standards.

What I find irksome is the fact that they also reject ALL subsequent degrees due to the "flaws" of the first degree. This automatically implies that some genius kid that goes directly to MIT's Ph.D. program in physics b/c he has already self-mastered the B.Sc. curicculum, will do research at the Dimona center and get paid as a HS drop-out. That's ridiculous.

Instead of going on about how wonderful and prestigious YU is, Joel should have brought a medical doctor to the committee - someone that did a BA at YU with 32 yeshiva credits, then finished medical school, made Aliyah, passed the Israeli MD board and is now a specialist. Ask the bureaucrats if they wouldn't go to such a doctor or believe that he should get paid by a government hospital at the level of the orderlys b/c "officially" he's only a HS graduate (or even less if he went early admissions to YC)

Olah Chadasha said...

ari, I went to YU straight from high-school, and my degree was accepted. I assume that means that it applies only to those who go to Israel. Regardless of that, you're right on the 3 year deal. Every graduate of YU graduates with more credits than most other universities, and it's not like the credits one gets from Israel is applied to the general degree. Every graduate of YU graduates with two degrees; a BA in whatever major(s) they did, and an AA; An Associated Degree in Judaic Studies. The AA is not based on choice. Becuase of all the Judaic Studies classes we have to take, we all end up with enough credits to have an AA in Judaic Studies. That has nothing to do with and is completely separate from the BA and the credits requirements to graduate with a BA. It's in addition to the BA. That's why every YU student has to take 7-8 classes a semester. Those Israeli credits ONLY apply to the AA, NOT to the BA. This is why YU's credits are accepted by every major univeristy in the world. Well, except Israel, it seems. Yes, rock, since Yale, Harvard, every other Ivy League school, and any other accredited University accepts YU transcripts and credits.

If anything, the Ministry of Education has no right to be denying acceptance of a YU's student's BA. It's completely untouched and has nothing to do with their Yeshiva or Seminary credits. If they want, they can deny legitimacy to the AA, because that's where those credits are applied. AND, even if they just denied the AA, it wouldn't discredit the BA, because a given student has all the requisite credits to graduate. It's not like those 34 credits, if taken away, displace a person from a BA. Those 34 credits are made up else-where. That's why all YU graduates graduate with like 200 credits.

This complete beurocratic non-sense, it's laughable. Well, if it wasn't so serious, it would be. There is absolutely no legitimate excuse for the Ministry to be doing this, other than their pathetic prejudice and biggotry toward the orthodox community.

Anonymous said...

Where in the world is Yichiyeh Ayash School of Engineering at Ramalla Polytechnic?

Maybe you've been stuck in the muqata for too long.

Or did you mean Balestine Polytechnic University? In Wadi Alharia?


Anonymous said...

this only presents a problem for people trying to get a job in education. In any other field, they are not effected by this stupidity. Yeshiva University is doing whatever they can to clear this up. It isnt an anti-religious thing, but it is still an unintelligent move by the government. They are in essence telling American educators not to make aliyah.

Search the Muqata


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