Biased Policy In Yeshivah Funding to Continue

YERUSHALAYIM -

The current state budget, which discriminates against yeshivos and kollelim in favor of “Zionistic yeshivot,” will continue to do so in 2014, following an agreement between the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, Arutz Sheva reports.

The brunt of the cutback was once again felt by chareidi yeshivos, while those aligned with
the national-religious sector retained almost all of their funding levels dating back to 2012, prior to the Netanyahu-Lapid austerity measures.

The numbers tell the story. While a student in a chareidi yeshivah was allocated NIS 255 and an avreich NIS 459, a student in a yeshivah that encourages military service was given NIS 918. As for the hesder yeshivos, the monthly funding per student is NIS 714 from the Education Ministry, but the yeshivah also receives money from the Defense Ministry, bringing the rate to NIS 1,287 — more than five times the rate of a bachur in a chareidi yeshivah. Moreover, the hesder yeshivah receives this funding for all five years, even though the student spends 16 months of this time in the army and not in yeshivah.

The change in criteria is seen by Jewish Home as an achievement. After it was announced, Jewish Home Deputy Education Minister Avi Wartzman hailed it: “We invested many efforts in order that the Zionist and hesder yeshivos not suffer from the cuts to the yeshivah budget.”

Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett added that “I take it upon myself and will guarantee that we will achieve what I promised — that the Zionist yeshivot will not be hurt [by the cuts]. I take responsibility for that.”

Meanwhile, as of Jan. 1, funding for non-Israeli students from abroad is being completely discontinued. This cut may prove devastating for many yeshivos that have a large number of foreign students.

While this cut applies across the board, discussions are in progress between the parties to work out an agreement in which those yeshivos aligned with Jewish Home  would receive funding for overseas students if they teach “Zionistic values,” including arranging for visits to army bases and similar activities.

The ignominious path to the present budgetary situation began in May 2013, when the 2013-14 budget contained a cut of NIS 260 million from the yeshivah budget of 2013 and an additional NIS 227 million in 2014. After the budget was passed, the parties came to an agreement to reduce the cutback by NIS 130 million. Ultimately, however, only half that amount, NIS 65 million, was transferred. Even that addition to the budget was approved only after the Education Ministry changed the funding criteria in a way that ensured that chareidi yeshivos won’t benefit from the additional money.

According to the agreement reached in recent days between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid, the 2014 yeshivah budget format will remain as in the last four months of 2013 [the budget was passed in late August], and the additional planned cut will not go into effect. The NIS 65 million that was added after the budget was passed is not part of the agreement.