Abolition of Funding for Foreign Students Threatens Yeshivos

YERUSHALAYIM -

The elimination of government funding for thousands of students from abroad who study in yeshivos and kollelim throughout Israel is imperiling their existence.

From the beginning of the year, the situation created by the absence of a formally approved state budget for 2013 has already resulted in a loss of some 20 percent of their monthly funding. The complete suspension of allocations for foreign yeshivah students, slated to go into effect starting in August, threatens to have a devastating impact.

The rationale for the draconian measure is not immediately apparent. The students in question, because they are not Israeli citizens, are not subject to the military draft, and so their funding is not relevant to the current debate over conscription. Furthermore, the country benefits enormously from their and their families’ tourist dollars, as well as the fact that many do eventually settle in Israel.

In response, a spokesman for United Torah Judaism observed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid are doing all they can, not only to harm the yeshivos, but also to undermine the gathering strength of the Torah community represented by the thousands of charedim who come to study and live in Israel from the U.S., Britain, and other countries.