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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Orthodox Jewish colleges lose Quebec funding

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Quebec has cut off provincial funding for three Montreal institutions for Orthodox Jewish students that have been operating in tandem with a public college for two decades.

Quebec has cut off provincial funding for three Montreal institutions for Orthodox Jewish students that have been operating in tandem with a public college for two decades.

Quebec Education Minister Michelle Courchesne confirmed last weekend that funding for the Hasidic schools will end next year because of their religious focus.

Since 1985, the Jewish institutes have been run in parallel with the Marie-Victorin CÉGEP, a public, post-secondary college in Montreal’s Côte des Neiges district.

Teachers at the Jewish colleges are hired and paid through the CÉGEP, and Orthodox Jewish students study the same curriculum as their CÉGEP counterparts.

But women and men are segregated in some of the institutions’ classes, and the schools close for Jewish holidays.

Quebec “cannot accept” that schools with religious restrictions be funded by public money, Courchesne said.

The decision came as a surprise to Eli Meroz, academic co-ordinator at the Torah and Vocational Institute (TAV), who said the school focuses on job training, not religion.

“I’m a little bit surprised, because we’ve not adapted any of the content in the courses,” Meroz told CBC News. “There may be some small adaptations in terms of calendar ? [for example], we don’t offer classes on Jewish holidays.

“The main objective here is to provide job training to these communities, so that students from these communities can access the job market.”

“There are communities that in the past have not had access to CÉGEP programs and this type of job training, because they were not comfortable in the public CÉGEP system.”

Not every class is segregated by gender, Meroz added.

The institutions won’t necessarily close as a result of Quebec’s decision, because they plan to seek private CÉGEP permits, he said.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

© CBC News. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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