The Education Ministry has issued a temporary order to enable it to continue the
transfer of stipends to full-time yeshiva students, despite the fact that such
funds were mandated by the “Tal Law” which expired on August
Religious-freedom lobby group Hiddush accused the ministry of seeking
to circumvent the law and change the funding criteria altogether, but a ministry
spokeswoman said the status quo was merely being temporarily
“No new criteria have been issued and the previous situation
[before the expiration of the Tal Law] is simply being maintained through this
temporary order,” the spokeswoman said.
The Tal Law provided the legal
framework for full-time yeshiva students to indefinitely defer their military
service, as well as established a monthly stipend of NIS 828 to be paid to such
students – through the yeshivot – by the government.
Following the law’s
expiration, Hiddush submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding
that the transfer of the government stipends to yeshivot be halted.
current criteria for funding allowed the ministry to provide stipends only to
someone with either a full exemption from military service or with a deferment
in accordance with the Tal Law.
The expiration of the law means that
54,000 full-time yeshiva students, overwhelmingly from the haredi sector, lost
their deferment status. As a consequence, Hiddush issued its petition that the
High Court demand the Education Ministry freeze the transfer of the
approximately NIS 30 million in funds, according to the organization.
temporary order enables the ministry to transfer money for someone who received
a deferment in the past through the Tal Law.
Hiddush slammed the order as
“underhanded” and cast doubt on its legality.
Attorney Gilad Barnea, who
filed the petition on behalf of Hiddush, said that the move proved that
continued funding of yeshivot under the previous criteria was
Barnea added that the temporary order is “to the best of [his]
knowledge... also illegal, and we’re talking about political opportunism which
the Education Minister and the government legal adviser are complicit
“It is clear that the government is more interested in appeasing the
haredi parties and to continue to pay hundreds of millions of shekels in support
for yeshiva students than to draft them, as it is obligated to according to the
law,” Hiddush director Uri Regev added.
“Everything is kosher,” he
continued, “including circumventing the courts and including such dubious
Regev said that Hiddush would take “every possible legal
step” to prevent the funds being transferred.
Mickey Gitzin, director of
the secularist lobbying group Be Free Israel, said that the Education Ministry
was creating a “totally distorted reality.”
“At the end of the day, it
doesn’t seem to matter a jot what the High Court or Israeli law says. The only
thing that remains stable in Israel’s political reality is the transfer of funds
to the yeshivot,” Gitzin said.