Jun 27, 2006 — Yeshiva University (YU) President Richard M. Joel has called the decision by the Israel Ministry of Education not to recognize academic degrees to YU graduates who have immigrated to Israel “inconceivable” and “unacceptable.”
In testimony yesterday before a joint session of the Knesset’s Education, Culture, and Sports Committee and the Committee for Immigration, Absorption, and the Diaspora, President Joel urged the committees to unequivocally recognize such degrees.
“It is inconceivable, moreover unacceptable, that the Ministry of Education suddenly refuses to recognize the academic validity of the Yeshiva University degree in order to determine appropriate salary and compensation to our graduates, new olim (those who immigrated), who have been hired to educate children in Israeli schools, or who would seek to fill other positions within the public sector,” said President Joel.
President Joel addressed the Knesset to ensure the continued recognition of all Yeshiva University degrees for the calculation of salary status by the Education Ministry. This calculation is important for the numerous YU alumni who work in the Israeli education system. Yeshiva University degrees are fully recognized by Israeli universities and for professional accreditation. Recently some YU alumni experienced difficulties with their salary status when seeking positions under the auspices of the Ministry of Education.
Yeshiva University has been inextricably linked to Israel since its inception. More than 3,000 YU alumni olim have come from Yeshiva University, more than any other university in the world. They hold influential positions in education, finance, government, Jewish learning and medicine and make significant contributions to Israeli society. Approximately 800 students spend their post-high school in Israel in YU’s S. Daniel Abraham Program in Israel which has had steady enrollment despite ongoing tensions.
In times of crisis, YU students have repeatedly proven their willingness to work and risk their lives in Israel. During the Gulf War in 1991, some 400 students, faculty, administration, and alumni, including then-President Norman Lamm, flew to Israel on a mission known as Operation Torah Shield and filled jobs vacated by soldiers. During the intifada in 2002, 200 students flew to Israel on Operation Torah Shield II for a weeklong solidarity mission.
Despite the support of several Members of Knesset (MK) from across the political and religious spectrum including MK’s Natan Sharansky, Zevulun Orlev and Education Committee Chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior, YU graduates still face rejection of their degrees only in Israel. More than a year ago, former education minister Limor Livnat demanded that YU degrees be recognized immediately. Academic institutions and governmental bodies around the world recognize degrees awarded by Yeshiva University and accept its graduates into their masters and Ph.D programs.
“Yeshiva University is a leader of American Jewry and an internationally respected university. There is nowhere in the United States where Israel is more of a priority,” said Minister Sharansky.
Committee Chairman Melchior declared, “We are going to solve this problem and facilitate a recognition process which works. We cannot allow bureaucracy to get in the way of YU alumni being successfully absorbed in Israel.”
Rabbi Melchior gave the professional staffs of the Finance, Justice and Education Ministries 30 days to devise the process by which all Yeshiva University degrees would be immediately recognized for the assessment of salary levels.
“The issue is clear – a duly accredited American university frankly demands the proper legal recognition the State of Israel must give to a properly accredited institution of the United States of America,” President Joel concluded in his remarks to the committee. “We have wonderful graduates trying to contribute to the state and are being blocked by bureaucratic nonsense.”