Ponevezh Yeshiva in B’nei Brak.
The ITIM religious services organization called on Wednesday on the Deputy Minister for Religious Services Eli Ben-Dahan to provide the same discounts for marriage registration fees enjoyed by yeshiva students to women enrolled in religious studies as well.
Men studying full time in a yeshiva are entitled to a 40 percent discount in the NIS 700 fee for marriage registration, as are soldiers, disabled people, new immigrants, among others.
Recently, an engaged woman studying full time in a religious seminary went to her local rabbinate in the Sharon region to register for marriage, and asked for the discounted price owing to her status as a religious student.
According to ITIM, the rabbinate in question turned to the Ministry of Religious Services which instructed the marriage registrar to deny the request for the discount.
“Qualification for the discount is granted because to population groups which the state recognizes as being financially restrained and wishes to assist them in receiving basic services like marriage registration,” ITIM wrote in a letter to Ben-Dahan yesterday.
“Female seminary students, like male yeshiva students, are in an obligatory and serious educational framework that does not allow for employment, and we are astonished not to include them in the discount.”
The organization also pointed out that ministry’s policy could contravene Israel’s laws on sexual equality.
“Religious seminaries for women are now an important and integral part of the Torah world, and there is no reason at all that seminary students should be discriminated against, as compared to [male] yeshiva students for this discount,” said ITIM director and Orthodox rabbi Seth Farber.
In response to the letter, a source in the ministry told The Jerusalem Post that Ben-Dahan looked favorably on the idea of giving women the same discount enjoyed by men and was examining how this might be brought about.
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