America’s premier yeshivah reacted with disappointment to a state court’s ruling Thursday that a $10.6 million grant by New Jersey was unconstitutional.
Rabbi Moshe Gleiberman, vice president of Lakewood’s Beis Medrash Govoha, said in a statement that the appellate court’s decision discriminated against religious schools. He said that most of the 6,800 students at the yeshivah go into non-clergy professions.
“BMG’s positive economic impact is widely recognized, with our graduates entering diverse fields, including business, education, finance, law, technology, social work, and more,” Rabbi Glieberman said. “BMG graduates have a solid record in establishing and expanding businesses that create jobs and contribute to New Jersey’s economy.”
“Excluding these students and the institutions which serve them from funding solely on the basis of religion — even though they meet all grant criteria — is its own form of discrimination,” he said. “This doesn’t just hurt Jewish students, it hurts us all.”
Rabbi Glieberman said the projects the grants were to fund, including a library and research center, are on hold.
Beis Medrash Govoha is accredited by the state as an institution of higher learning. It is, along with Yerushalayim’s Mirrer Yeshivah, the two largest yeshivos in the world.
The yeshiva itself wasn’t named in the suit and a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office did not see whether it will appeal.
The state three years ago distributed $13 billion in grants to 232 colleges around the state, including 11 religiously based institutions such as Seton Hall University, College of Saint Elizabeth, Georgian Court University, Saint Peters, and Princeton Theological. Only two, Beis Medrash Govoha and Princeton Theological — which received $645,323 — were declared unconstitutional by the court.
The ruling was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. New Jersey officials had argued the grants did not run afoul of the Constitution because they were meant to pay for buildings and equipment, not religious activities.
“It is disappointing that the court has not recognized this lawsuit for what it is — an attack on diversity in higher education,” Rabbi Gleiberman said.
“The Appellate Division itself acknowledged that there are multiple credible interpretations of what is permitted under the New Jersey Constitution, and that these issues are ripe for review and determination by the New Jersey Supreme Court,” he added. “We are confident that the grants will be reinstated by the Supreme Court.”