young haredis studying 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is set to discuss a bill
initiated by MK Moshe Gafni, that will reinstate stipends for those who
study Torah full-time, but Israel Beiteinu and Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Yitzhak
Herzog say they will vote it down.
"The purpose of this law is to anchor the right of kollel students to
recieve stipends and establish unified rules for granting them," the
bill, which the committee will discuss on Sunday, reads. "The state sees
a great importance in encouraging Torah study, which is a central value
in the life of the Jewish people; therefore, we propose allowing a
modest stipend for kolel students that have chosen to follow this path."
High Court: Income guarantees to kollel students unlawful
Analysis: The Right Not to Work
In a statement released Saturday night, Israel Beteinu announced that they would oppose the bill, saying “not only does the law bluntly discriminate against [university] students in Israel, who serve in the IDF and pay taxes, it eternalizes unemployment…and harms Israel’s economy.”
Herzog said he would discuss the bill in the Labor Party ministerial
meeting, which precedes Sunday’s committee meeting, and would encourage
Labor ministers to vote against it.
“If we are taking care of problems and aiding one group, there is no
reason to discriminate against other groups,” Herzog said, explaining
that university students and single-parent families deserve funding, as
The new law is sponsored by UTJ, Shas and the National Union, and
proposes giving scholarships to kollel students with at least three
children and no other source of income.
Other conditions for receiving a stipend are that the yeshiva student not own land or a car, and that his wife not work, either.
The new law circumvents the Supreme Court's mid-June ruling that put an end to income guarantees to yeshiva students.
At the time, the Supreme Court said that such guarantees are
discriminatory, because they were not given to university students, as
well. The court ruled that they cannot be included in the 2011 budget.
The proposed bill points out that the state's budget allows for NIS 450
million in aid for university students, and only NIS 121 million for
In the explanatory section of the bill, the MKs wrote: "The voice of
Torah was not silenced even in the darkest periods in Jewish history,
and much of the public sees Torah learning in kollels as promoting the
essence of the Jewish people's existence and the guarantee of their
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called for ministers to vote against the
bill, saying “the government…needs to make a historic decision: Whether
to encourage higher education, joining the work force and leaving the
cycle of poverty, or to support Judaic studies and eternalizing
unemployment in a large part of the haredi population.”
Kadima’s spokesperson released the following statement: “Israel’s prime
minister faces a test tomorrow, and the public should watch him closely.
Tomorrow, Bibi will prove if his political survival is more important
to him than the Supreme Court’s decision.”
“If Netanyahu bypasses the Supreme Court,” Kadima said, “he is bypassing democracy and deriding the public.”
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