(photo credit: Jerusalem Post staff)
The Association of Hesder Yeshivot said on Sunday that many of its member
organizations are in dire financial straits because 2011 funds the Defense
Ministry allocated to it have still not been transferred.
are Jewish seminaries whose students combine their religious studies with army
service, usually over a period of five years.
According to the
association, the money supplied by the Defense Ministry usually makes up
approximately 30 percent of its overall budget.
The association, made up
of 60 yeshivot, cited the concerns of “a number of officials” who believe the
ministry is using the hesder yeshiva budget as a “bargaining chip” with the
Knesset Finance Committee to extract funding for various programs from the
According to these sources, because there are several
religious- Zionist MKs on the Finance Committee who view hesder yeshivot as
particularly important, the Defense Ministry has taken this opportunity to wrest
the funds it is demanding from the committee.
The ministry said in
response that it “rejects the claims that it is withholding any money as a
bargaining chip. The ministry sees the hesder yeshivot as very important and
does not intend to harm them.”
According to MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit
Hayehudi), who is a member of the finance committee, only NIS 7 million of the
association’s NIS 22 million budget for 2011 has been transferred, despite the
fact that the year has nearly ended.
“I have personally asked the Defense
Ministry why the funds haven’t been transferred and I have yet to hear a clear
explanation regarding this matter,” Orlev told The Jerusalem Post. “I have no
idea why they are withholding the money, there doesn’t seem to be any formal
economic or legal obstacle here.”
As to the claims that the ministry is
using the budget of the Hesder yeshivot as a bargaining chip, Orlev said that
these are only rumors, but that he hopes they are not true.
“This is the
speculation being heard in the corridors,” he said. “If it is true then the
ministry would essentially be acting like the mafia, trying to get me to behave
like a good boy in the committee and vote how they want me to.”
said that he has requested a hearing in the finance committee to hear directly
from the ministry the reasons why it has not transferred the funds.
association said that if the process of transferring the funds does not begin in
the next few days, many of the yeshivot will be subject to severe financial
shortfalls. It stated that many yeshivot have already delayed paying employees’
salaries as well as assorted bills to various suppliers.
Eitan Ozeri, director of the Association of Hesder Yeshivot, if the money is not
transferred by the end of 2011, the process will be delayed for at least another
three months. The funds are usually transferred at the end of the year, but this
year the process has not even begun, Ozeri said.