Shas, UTJ: Inspect secular institutions too

Religious parties demand that inspections similar to those in yeshivot be held at secular state-funded institutions.

By JONAH MANDEL
July 25, 2011 11:26
2 minute read.
Students (illustrative)

Students 521. (photo credit: courtesy)

 
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Deputy Finance Minister Itzhak Cohen (Shas) is demanding that the Finance Ministry conduct inspections into secular cultural and educational institutions that receive state funding, in the same way that yeshivot do.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Cohen’s call came in the wake of a recent inspection at the Beit Shmaya yeshiva in Bnei Brak, where two men walked in on the head of the yeshiva in the middle of his weekly lesson to the entire student body, in what was perceived as a highly insensitive and disrespectful move. Following the incident, heads of yeshivot and haredi Knesset members convened on Saturday night and issued a call to the Finance Ministry, under which the inspections take place, to freeze the inspections for a week and draw up clear and respectful procedures for the inspections.

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“Nobody is opposed to inspections, but they should apply to everyone who receives public funding. Why only the yeshivot? There should be clear procedures,” he said, noting that he was already working on compiling such guidelines.

MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) sent a letter to the same effect to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, asking that inspectors be sent to universities and colleges for head-counts, to check student ID cards, attendance and hours in the institutions, as per the procedures of inspection in yeshivot and kollels. If during such inspections, conducted by accountant firms sub-contracted by the Finance Ministry’s accountant general, discrepancies are found between the number of students listed in the institution and those actually in attendance, the institution can be penalized or even lose its eligibility to receive state funding.

“In addition, the procedure of examining haredi cultural institutions should be applied to cultural institutions in Israel, and the number of attendants at such events should be counted.

“Inspectors should also be sent to workplaces in the public sector, to see how many employees are at their place of work during work hours, and cut their salaries in the same manner funding is cut to yeshivot and kollels,” he added.

Haredi websites reported on Sunday that a number of yeshivot didn’t allow inspectors to enter their gates that day. Based on these reports, the Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality group called on the state to revoke such institutions’ budgets.

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The Finance Ministry, meanwhile, gave no indication they were planning on heeding the decree of the yeshiva heads to stop inspections this week, though they reiterated their contrition over last week’s Beit Shmaya incident.

“The inspections are to ensure that the support moneys reach their destination, and are conducted with utmost sensitivity, while retaining the dignity of those inspected,” a response to a Post query read.

“The irregular event that happened at the Beit Shmaya yeshiva, which we are sorry for, is no reason to put an end to these inspections, which are an interest of all the honest institutions. At the same time, we are examining the circumstances of that event, to ensure that such happenings do not reoccur,” read the message.

Regarding the demand that the state inspect its secular institutions the way it does its religious ones, a spokeswoman for the Finance Ministry noted on Monday that “there was no change in the current policy, according to which all of the bodies receiving support in accordance with clause 3a of the Budgetary Fundamentals Law – including cultural, educational, artistic, scientific and welfare institutions – are subject to inspection.”

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