Labor MK Shaffir fights funding for Jewish identity education

Secular, religious MKs argue over funding of new Jewish Identity Administration in Knesset Finance Committee.

Knesset 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Uriel Sinai/Pool )
Knesset 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Uriel Sinai/Pool )
Secular and religious MKs got into a heated argument over funding of the new Jewish Identity Administration in the Knesset Finance Committee Tuesday.
MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) took issue with the recently established Jewish Identity Administration’s existence, which the committee voted to give an additional budget of NIS 14 million.
“What is Jewish identity? Who defines it?” Shaffir asked. “They’re trying to promote a very specific agenda using public funds.”
The Jewish Identity Administration is part of the Religious Services Ministry; its foundation is an article in Bayit Yehudi’s coalition agreement with Likud Beytenu.
The administration is meant to work with populations of all religious levels to encourage “experiential encounters with the Torah and Jewish sources” and focuses on youth.
“At the beginning of the week Lapid opposed a bill to give paternity leave [because of costs], and now we’re talking about NIS 14 million for the Jewish Identity Administration that only [Religious Affairs Minister] Naftali Bennett understands what it is,” Shaffir added.
MK Zvulun Kalfa (Bayit Yehudi) retorted that “the government has a mandate to promote things it believes in. Jews have rights in this country, and it’s not bad to strengthen Jewish identity.”
“The administration’s budget expresses the current government’s policy, just like previous governments’ decisions that I didn’t like were authorized,” Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky told Shaffir.
The committee authorized the budget for the Jewish Identity Administration.
Later Tuesday, Shaffir wrote on Facebook: “Bennett’s rabbis think that you, I, all of us aren’t Jewish enough and they need to teach us how to be Jewish in their way only, including