16 teachers at yeshiva near Paris arrested in raid over conditions for students
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

16 teachers at yeshiva near Paris arrested in raid over conditions for students

Police began investigating Beth Yossef after a student left the institution and sought the help of staff at the U.S. embassy in Paris

French Police (Photo by Paul MARSAN on Unsplash)
French Police (Photo by Paul MARSAN on Unsplash)

Police in France raided a prominent Orthodox Jewish school, arresting 16 teachers for alleged child abuse and placing dozens of teenaged boys temporarily under the state’s custody.

Police began investigating Beth Yossef, a boarding school near Paris, in July, after a student left the institution and sought the help of staff at the U.S. embassy in Paris, Agence France-Press reported.

The prosecutor’s office of Meaux, a municipality east of Paris, said in a statement that it had raided the school, which enrols students from Israel and the United States in addition to France, because investigators found that students were being mistreated. The entire faculty was arrested.

The raid was in response to “sequestration, confiscation of IDs, unsuitable living conditions, maltreatment, denial of access to education and other services without the possibility of allowing [students] to return to their families,” the statement said.

The raid Monday on Beth Yossef was the largest operation in recent history against a Jewish school in France, and the first time that the entire faculty of such an institution was arrested. It comes amid a crackdown against schools that operate outside of government oversight that began in France in 2020.

Many French Jews have supported the crackdown on unlicensed schools, announced by French President Emmanuel Macron and widely understood to be aimed at curbing informal Muslim schools as part of a broader push against radical Islam.

Attempts by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to reach staff of Beth Yossef, which was founded in 1948, were not immediately successful. An accountant working for the institution said he had not been able to contact his employers since the raid. Reports in the French media about the arrests did not include the institution’s reaction to the allegations.

Beth Yossef is authorised by the French government to operate but does not receive government funding, leaving it outside the normal oversight structure for French schools. A task force set up to lead the crackdown on unlicensed schools — the Inter-ministerial Taskforce of Vigilance and Fight against Sectarian Movements — flagged it, Le Figaro reported.

Beth Yossef’s website offers extensive detail about its Judaic studies program but does not mention secular subjects at all.

Orthodox schools in Western Europe have come under increasing pressure by authorities in recent years to conform to mandatory curriculums. European officials have also objected to the segregation of male and female students and the instruction of the theory of evolution by natural selection in Orthodox schools.

The tension has resulted in inspections, loss of public funding and citations for noncompliant and partially compliant institutions. Arrests, however, have been extremely rare.

Meyer Habib, a prominent French Jewish leader, told JTA that he did not have specific information about the conditions at Beth Yossef and could “not assess at this point the merit of the allegations.” But he said some French Jews were

“There are all kinds of claims circulating: On the one hand, that things that shouldn’t happen did happen at Beth Yossef,” said Habib, a lawmaker in the French National Assembly and a former vice president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities. “And on the other hand, that this is a case of students settling scores with teachers.”

What is known, he said, “is that the children are well, they are together in one place, they are getting kosher food and their legal guardians are being contacted.” Habib also said, “It is sad that this happened at such a reputable institution.”

Asked whether the raid at Beth Yossef could be entwined with the crackdown on Muslim counterparts amid fears of radicalisation that Jewish leaders share, Habib said: “It’s a good question. It’s a question we will be asking in the coming days.”

At least 42 underage students from the yeshiva in the Paris suburb of Bussières (Seine-et-Marne) were placed at an undisclosed child welfare facility, Le Figaro reported. The state has assumed custody of the children provisionally for five days, during which attempts will be made to reunite them with their families abroad, the report said.

The status of any child whose legal guardian will not be located at the end of those five days will be determined by a family court, the report said.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments