The case of the 39 Bais Ya'akov girls who were rescued last week from the top of a Scottish mountain shrouded in mist continues to reverberate. As you will recall, the girls were wearing school uniforms and trainers, with only garbage bags to protect them from the rain, had no compass -- and completely ignored warnings the mountain wasn't safe under the weather conditions and refused the offer of a guide should they insist on doing the climb regardless. To make matters worse, when the girls were rescued -- it took the team an hour to find them! -- they were apparently rude to the rescuers and took it all as a big joke.
The Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Education and Skills are now launching an investigation, and it looks like the school governors, together with the three teachers who climbed down halfway and the sole teacher left with the girls, will now face prosecution.
The question is -- will they learn their lesson? I fear not and that it will take someone, G-d forbid, dying before they do. A spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations told the Jewish Chronicle this week that it was an issue for the schools, not the community; never mind that the JC story was accompanied by a box detailing a series of similar incidents over last few years, in which ill-equipped haredi school groups and organizations had to be rescued during hikes in England.
The fact is, this is a problem of community culture, which stems from:
a. The complete disregard haredim have for the 'secular' world, which includes secular rules, even when they concern health and safety and are for their own benefit;
b. The haredim's complete unfamiliarity with the natural world and with the countryside of the very country they live in. When they venture out of their own communities once a year on their annual trip into nature, they seem to assume no harm can come to them in today's day and age and show complete ignorance of the very real danger nature still poses;
c. The ad-hoc way many of the schools are still run.
As a quick PR cover-up the school has offered to buy the rescue team a piece of equipment, and the girls are sending them a totally embarrasing piece of "poetry," which includes the lines:
“We are truly amazed at your dedication day by day / So that mountaineering remains safe all the way / Your work as volunteers deserves much praise and song / Helping the experienced and amateur to get along.”
That 17 year old girls could produce such inane drivel can only be a reflection of the total infantalization of haredi education. What about a sincere, straight letter of apology? The tone of this so-called "poetry" would indicate that after all they've been through, these girls still aren't taking their little escapade very seriously.