In a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the heads of Israeli universities slammed a proposal by Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri that would see yeshivah graduates given the same consideration in job hiring as university graduates. The letter asks Netanyahu to “reconsider this rule, and to at least institute it as a temporary order that will be restricted to the Interior Ministry alone.” A copy of the letter was sent to Rabbi Deri himself, as well as Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
In August, Rabbi Deri instituted new rules in which yeshivah education would be recognized as the equivalent of college credits for the purpose of employment in local authorities. According to the protocol, individuals who hold a semichah certificate recognized by the Rabbinate, or who have completed six years of post-high school study in a recognized yeshivah, receive the same consideration in hiring as individuals who hold a bachelor of arts degree from a college or university, or a recognized professional certificate.
The order signed by Rabbi Deri requires local authorities to include the new rules in the list of qualifications required to get a job. The new rules will open up public employment opportunities to tens of thousands of individuals, Rabbi Deri said.
College-level education is not required for all job in local authorities, but it is required for many administrative and managerial positions. However, even for positions that do not require a college degree, having a degree usually bumps an employee’s salary to a higher level.
But according to the university heads, a college degree isn’t just a “pass” into a better job, but a life-broadening experience. “The lack of basic knowledge among those who only attend yeshivos will in just a few years reduce the level of service in local authorities, thus harming each and every citizen who needs quick and efficient service.”
With that, the letter said, “we accord full honor to those who choose to build a career as Rabbinical students. With that, positions in local authorities require certain basic skills as part of the everyday execution of tasks.” It is doubtful, they added, that yeshivah graduates possess those skills.
According to Rabbi Deri, “it doesn’t make sense that a college graduate who studied social sciences would be able to contend for a position, but not a yeshivah graduate who studied Judaism in depth. We are beginning this program at the local authority level, and plan to expand it later to government ministries. I am sure that this program will enable many members of the chareidi community to take on key positions in local government and in civil service.”