(photo credit:Yaacov Gross)
Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, spiritual leader of the haredi world, spoke out on
Saturday night against the proposals for haredi enlistment in the coalition
agreements signed on Friday.
Many of the clauses within the deals
directly affect the haredi community and would, if implemented, lead to drastic
changes in ultra- Orthodox society, including stipulations to institute the
teaching of core curriculum subjects in haredi schools; conditioning state
benefits on being employed; and increasing haredi enlistment into national
“Suddenly this great trouble has come upon us, a terrible
trouble to destroy the Jewish people and the Torah,” Shteinman said at a
conference in Bnei Brak.
“For many generations we were able to learn and
teach Torah to our children, and the Torah increased and yeshivot increased...
and we are asking for mercy from God that he will enable us to continue learning
Torah all our lives,” the haredi website Kikar HaShabbat quoted the rabbi as
Shteinman said that the haredi world must strive to increase its
study of Torah which would provide spiritual merit to the community and lead God
to provide for the community.
United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush said
that anyone involved in the drafting of the “wretched” coalition agreements
would be “remembered for eternal disgrace.”
“When we say in a few days in
the Passover meal, ‘In each and every generation they rise up to destroy us and
God will save us from their hand,’ it will have all the greater significance,”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, haredi journalist Yisroel
Cohen said that the feeling in the ultra-Orthodox world was one of concern and
fear that their situation is changing.
“It’s clear that the rules of the
game have changed, the haredi parties are on the outside, they’re not in
government, they don’t have their hands on the taps anymore, they don’t have the
influence or power, so this makes it harder to act,” Cohen explained.
said, though, that the haredi leadership was waiting to see what will happen and
if the various stipulations of the coalition agreements will be
If the terms of the agreements were implemented in full,
they would be unacceptable to the haredi community and the rabbinic leadership,
And it is not only the planned reforms to haredi enlistment
that is worrying the ultra-Orthodox world, but also the provisions calling for
core curriculum subjects to be taught in haredi schools as well as the reforms
to eligibility for state benefits.
The agreement between Yesh Atid and
Likud Beytenu stipulates that the next budget should include a plan for the
gradual introduction of a system whereby all state benefits will be granted only
if a person is employed, actively looking for employment or unable to work. This
will include subsidized housing and child daycare.
Such measures would
have a serious impact on the finances of the average haredi family and would
seriously complicate full-time yeshiva study.
Teaching of core curriculum
topics in haredi schools is perhaps as sensitive an issue as that of
The independence of the haredi education system was something
that the community leadership insisted on in its agreement with David Ben-Gurion
in 1947, which was needed by him to demonstrate the unity of the Jewish
community in Mandate Palestine to the UN ahead of its vote on
A United Torah Judaism official described the haredi education
system as “the basis of haredi society” and the tool through which members of
the community gain their identity.
He described incoming education
minister Shai Piron of Yesh Atid as “the most dangerous man in Israel” for the
haredi community because of his and his party’s insistence that secular subjects
be introduced to the haredi school system, where they are barely taught at
Cohen said that the measures on state benefits and education
would cross red lines for the community and lead to serious civil opposition
from the ultra-Orthodox world.
But it was not only haredim who were
displeased with the coalition agreement. Secularist activist group Free Israel
expressed dismay that the deal includes the provision that all parties must
agree to legislative changes on matters of religion and state.
this includes the national-religious Bayit Yehudi party, Free Israel said that
Orthodox interests and groups would still have a monopoly on the religious
status quo and that all that had been achieved in terms of reform to matters of
religion and state was “to change the the kippa from black to
The group accused Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid of abandoning his
promises on bringing religious pluralism to Israel.
Before the election,
Lapid promised “to do everything in my power” so that all Jewish denominations
in Israel would be placed on an equal legal footing, and vowed to institute
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