Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Ultra-Orthodox School Distances Itself From Document Prohibiting Talk Of Sex Or Evolution

(JTA) — A haredi Orthodox school for girls in Antwerp distanced itself from a document handed out by an employee of the school instructing other teachers not to speak with pupils about sex and evolution.

The Gazet van Antwerpen daily reported on the document titled “general instructions” yesterday, prompting the Flemish education minister, Hilde Crevits, to launch an investigation into the Benoth Jerusalem school, which is a high school.

The Flemish Region, whose capital in Antwerp, is one of three states comprising the federal country of Belgium. Benoth Jerusalem is a public school, funded by the Flemish education ministry. In addition to the curriculum required by the state, which includes teaching reproduction, evolution and history, it offers Jewish studies taught by haredi teachers. There is a haredi principal but non-Jewish teachers who are education ministry employees teach the mandatory curriculum subjects.

Under “teaching material,” the document, which appears to be intended for the non-Jewish teachers, reads: “Pupils are not to be talked to about: Sex, reproduction, politics, religion, racism, personal issues.”

In a statement, Benoth Jerusalem said that the document in question is “against everything the school stands for” and is “not an official school document.” An employee of the school did print the document but the employee has been told that the document “clashes with the school’s values,” the statement read.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning journalism this Passover.

In this age of misinformation, our work is needed like never before. We report on the news that matters most to American Jews, driven by truth, not ideology.

At a time when newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall. That means for the first time in our 126-year history, Forward journalism is free to everyone, everywhere. With an ongoing war, rising antisemitism, and a flood of disinformation that may affect the upcoming election, we believe that free and open access to Jewish journalism is imperative.

Readers like you make it all possible. Right now, we’re in the middle of our Passover Pledge Drive and we still need 300 people to step up and make a gift to sustain our trustworthy, independent journalism.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Only 300 more gifts needed by April 30

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.