Naftali Bennett 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Four senior rabbis from the conservative wing of the national-religious movement
issued a letter on Wednesday strongly criticizing the Bayit Yehudi party for
allowing deep cuts to be made to yeshiva budgets and what they termed “the Torah
Rabbis Dov Lior, Haim Steinner, Isser Kalonski and David Hai
HaCohen, known as the Tekuma rabbis for their role as the spiritual advisers to
the Tekuma political party, a constituent of the Bayit Yehudi Knesset faction,
said they were “writing in the name of the community of the faithful of Israel
which sees you as its emissaries and which sent you to guard the holy things of
Israel, the Torah and the Land.”
The rabbis pointed out that the Tekuma
party leaders had promised that along with the agreement to enter into coalition
with Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi would “protect yeshivot and their students from
being harmed,” and would also protect the “completeness of the Land” and the
“Despite this, we see these promises have not been fulfilled
and the honor of the Torah and its students has been humiliated,” the four
The state budget passed at the end of the Knesset summer
session includes a cut in yeshiva budgets from NIS 909 million in 2012 to NIS
422m. in 2014.
Yeshiva stipends for fulltime yeshiva students have
also been drastically cut, from NIS 720 per month for married students to NIS
279, and from NIS 400 for single students to NIS 139.
These cuts effect
haredi and national-religious yeshivas alike.
Steep cuts have also been
made to National Insurance Institute child allotments, cuts which have been
heavily opposed by the haredi political parties because of the large families in
the ultra-Orthodox sector.
“We believe that silence at such a time is
intolerable and we expect that in the name of the faithful of Israel you will
fight strongly for the principles of our path, against harm to the Land of
Israel, and against harmful expressions [aimed] toward each and every sector [of
society] and for the honor of the Torah and its students,” the rabbis
“We request... that you not rest or be silent until the injury
is repaired to the Torah and its institutions, including injury to the religious
institutions of the national-religious [sector], and to large families, may they
increase, upon which the Jewish people depend.”
Tekuma represents the
more hardline wing of the nationalreligious community, both politically and
religiously, and the party’s rabbis have made frequent statements voicing their
displeasure with Bayit Yehudi policies.
Notably, the Tekuma rabbis
vigorously opposed expanding the electoral committee for the chief rabbis, as
proposed in legislation by Hatnua MK Elazar Stern with the goal of diluting
haredi influence on the committee. Bayit Yehudi ultimately did not support the
bill and the legislation was not passed.
Bayit Yehudi officials did not
respond to requests for comment on the rabbis’ letter.
However, a source
in Bayit Yehudi told the Post
: “Tekuma rabbis should remember that Bennett gave
their MKs four seats and that they should go through private channels in the
future if they are interested in the unity of the national religious
Bayit Yehudi officials have pointed out in the past that Rabbi
Dov Lior, perhaps the most influential of the four rabbis and one of the leading
rabbinic authorities in the national-religious world, did not back Bayit Yehudi
in the recent elections, and supported the hard-right Otzmah Le’Yisrael party