Kollel Policemen 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy Traffic Police)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday demanded that the government explain
within 90 days why it continues to pay income support allotments to married men
studying full time in institutes for full-time, advanced study of the Talmud and
rabbinic literature (kollels).
In June 2010, the High Court ruled that
the government could not continue providing allotments only to ultra-Orthodox
students, while other students, such as those studying at university, do not
receive similar income support. The court said that the practice was illegal and
To address the ruling, the government in December 2010
drew up new terms for the allotment of income support for kollel students,
limiting the period for receiving the money to five years for kollel students
under the age of 29. This accounted for only 10 percent of all kollel students.
The new plan also provided an extra NIS 50 million for university students in
need of financial support.
At the High Court hearing on Wednesday for the
petition against the income support allowances, Justice Miriam Naor asked the
state’s representative, “How can we not issue an injunction? The situation as it
was and as it is now, will continue into the future, and this will not bring
The petition was filed in January by the National
Students Union, Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, the Masorti
(Conservative) Movement, the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform
Movement, the religious-Zionist Neemanei Torah VeAvodah NGO and several other
Since December 2010, approximately 10,000 kollel students
have continued to receive the allotments of NIS 1,040 a month.
eligible for this stipend are those who are married with three or more children
and whose total monthly income is less than NIS 1,200. Approximately 70,000
kollel students also receive NIS 920 a month study allotments from the
Following Wednesday’s High Court ruling, Rabbi Shlomo Brilant,
chairman of the Union of Yeshivot, defended the allotment system.
married kollel student with children gets in total roughly NIS 3,000, including
the income allowances and kollel contributions,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “Do
you think that living in such circumstances on NIS 3,000 is pleasant? It’s not,
so why do they do this? Because they sacrifice their lives for the sake of
studying Torah. Someone who takes up this lifestyle does not do it for the love
of money but for the love of Judaism. I don’t think people who dedicate their
lives and sacrifice themselves for studying Torah should be punished in this
way,” Brilant said.
“I am certain that the Supreme Court will not allow
this inequality to persist,” said Ofri Raviv, vice chairman of the National
Students Union. “This is a struggle for Zionism that is also part of the social
[equality] protests and another stage in the strengthening of the State of
A senior ultra-Orthodox political adviser argued in response to
the ruling that the criteria for receiving the income support allotments are
anyway extremely tough “and have been so for more than 50 years.
talking about the most poverty stricken sections of the haredi sector,” he said.
“Furthermore, just as the state pays and contributes toward secular culture,
haredim also demand financial support for the study of Torah in the Jewish
Shahar Ilan, vice president of Hiddush, welcomed the decision,
saying that a series of government studies established that the income support
allotments directly damage the state’s efforts to get kollel students into the
“This allotment causes severe damage to economy, because
thousands of people will never go to the work. This costs the economy billions,”