Bayit Yehudi MK: Planned cuts to yeshiva budgets to be reduced

Officials in Yesh Atid have said that the cancellation of some of the cuts will only come into effect if the government bill on drafting haredim into the army will be passed.

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December 23, 2013 22:30
2 minute read.
Bayit Yehudi MK Nisan Slomiansky

Bayit Yehudi MK Nisan Slomiansky 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Cuts to the budget for yeshivot, agreed upon in the summer, have been significantly reduced, the office of Bayit Yehudi MK Nissim Slomiansky claimed on Monday. However, officials in Yesh Atid have said that the cancellation of some of the cuts will only come into effect if the government bill on drafting haredim into the army will be passed.

The official budget for yeshivot in 2013 stood at NIS 909 million but it was agreed earlier this year to cut it sharply so that by 2014 it would be down to just NIS 422m.

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The yeshiva budgets are used to pay students a monthly stipend that comprises a small but significant portion of the income of thousands of haredi families.

However, according to Slomiansky, who is chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee and was in negotiations with Yesh Atid on the issue, the budget will now only be cut to approximately NIS 750m. for 2013 and will remain the same for 2014.

Officials within Yesh Atid said that such cuts were dependent on the passage of the government bill to draft haredim into the IDF.

Sources in Bayit Yehudi would not comment on these claims.

It appears that the Yesh Atid officials were referring to clauses within the government bill in which yeshivot whose students enlist to the IDF will receive increased funds, comparably to those whose students do not enlist.



This would theoretically obviate the necessity of the cuts to the yeshiva budgets because the money would simply be transferred away from yeshivot not encouraging enlistment to those that do.

One of the main purposes of the cuts to the yeshiva budgets is to create a situation in which it is financially difficult not to enlist and instead remain in yeshiva.

Under the previous budget for yeshivot in 2012, full-time married yeshiva students received NIS 900 a month, while single students received 500 shekels a month, in government stipends.

The stipends were due to be cut to NIS 279 for married students and NIS 139 for single students, but the cuts will now be far less severe.

The Hiddush religious equality lobbying group criticized the reduction in the cuts as well as Yesh Atid for allowing them through.

“The gap in the declarations made by Yesh Atid and their actions is very painful,” said Hiddush director Uri Regev in response to the reports.

“There is widespread popular support for massive cuts to the public funding of yeshivot that are sustained by Israeli tax payers. It is hard to understand the descent from a promised 60 percent cut to a cut of just 25%.

“This will certainly not help get yeshiva students into military or civilian service, and into the work force,” Regev continued.

The moderate national religious lobbying group Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah also criticized the reduction in the budget cuts, saying that it was contrary to Jewish law for yeshivot to be funded by public money when their students do not contribute to public funds.

“Someone who is faithful to Jewish law must act to gradually reduce these yeshivot, and at the same time to strengthen Torah institutes ([whether they are] national religious, haredi or secular) that encourage the integration of Torah and work,” the group declared.

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