Yeshivos Facing Severe Funding Inequality

YERUSHALAYIM - The Education Ministry sent a memo to yeshivah directors with the amount they will receive this month from the government, and the figures show a stark inequality between funding for yeshivos, favoring Zionist over chareidi yeshivos.

Monthly stipends for each yeshivah student came to 255 shekels, for avreichim, 489; whereas the monthly stipend for Torah institutions that encourage military service (over 60% enlistment) received 918 shekels.

Students of Hesder yeshivos, which are all from the religious Zionist sector, received 714 shekels monthly from the Education Ministry, plus 505 from the Defense Industry, bringing their total stipend to 1,287, more than five times as much as a chareidi student. In addition, the yeshivah gets the funding even during the 18 months that the student serves in the army and is not present in yeshivah.

Stipends for yeshivah students from abroad have been nearly eradicated, a mere 30 percent of the abovementioned figure.

In addition, the yeshivos face yet another budget cut next month, and the stipends for foreign students are to be totally eradicated.

Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) had promised that money cut from foreign students would be restored by the end of the year. It has not yet happened, and he is freezing all funding requests for organizations charged with encouraging aliyah until the matter is resolved.

Jewish Home had promised after the severe budget cuts were enacted in July that 133 million shekels will be restored to the yeshivah budget, but only NIS 65 million were approved.

However, the Education Ministry changed the criteria for funding yeshivos, resulting in the national religious yeshivos receiving close to the amount before the budget was passed, while chareidi yeshivos were left with most of the cut.