Following the controversy over Ethiopian children refused admittance to 'private' religious schools in Petah Tikvah, Ynet news focuses on the ongoing 'discrimination' facing Sephardi applicants. To put this issue in its proper context, the religious schools in question have a right to give priority to pupils from an Ashkenazi background. The Sephardi pupils are being forced to apply to these establishments essentially because their tradition of religious education no longer exists.
As the public and legal struggle to curb discrimination within haredi educational institutions continues, many still face difficulties in enrolling their children to desirable ultra-Orthodox schools, and some parents of Sephardic descent have resorted to changing their last names just to fit in.
Haredi weekly "Mishpacha" ("Family") reported in its most recent edition a growing trend of ultra-Orthodox families of eastern descent Hebraizing or "Ashkenizing" their surnames in order to increase their children's chances of being accepted to Ashkenazi seminaries and yeshivas. The clerks at the Interior Ministry's population registry are already used to the practice: The family name Turjeman is changed to Truzman, Mussayev to Moskovitch, Shavo to Shavan, and so on.
"It's no secret that Sephardic quotas in Ashkenazi educational institutions are limited," said David Rot (pseudonym), formerly Shitreet. "Every Sephardic parent that registers their son to an educational institution is met with a stack of difficulties, unless they have a well known reputation or are well connected, or if they place a hefty donation on the table and the money makes up for the name."
Yair Lev (pseudonym) who also changed his last name said, "I would rather not have taken this step, but in this world, everyone just looks at the outer wrapping of the name. If you don't have to right name, things are harder for you."
Both Rot and Lev said they had encountered much criticism from neighbors and members of their communities, with comments such as, "What's so bad about being Moroccan?", "The world isn't stupid, who are you fooling? You were born Moroccan and you will stay that way," but they said they had received some positive reinforcement as well.