Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight


Window into the Charedi World | Mordecai Plaut, director







Chareidi Education Budget of Jerusalem Cut Deeply

by B. Kahn

At a stormy meeting, the members of the executive board of the Iggud Hatatim (Talmud Torah Association) angrily criticized the Jerusalem Municipality's intention to cut the forthcoming year's budget of its Chareidi Chinuch Department by 25%.

Throughout the meeting, statistics were presented indicating that the city plans to deduct 7.5 million shekels, from the talmudei Torah's current 26 million shekel budget for educational, administrative and social activities. The directors of the institutions warned that if the city council carries out its intentions, every student in the city's talmudei Torah will receive only 12 shekels ($2.75) a month, and a student in a higher yeshiva-educational framework, only 2 shekels ($0.50) a month.

The principals of the talmudei Torah claimed that the municipality has decreased its participation in their expenses of (exclusive of wages) by 20%, and that the budgets of the seminaries for girls will be cut by 80%, meaning that 1.3 million shekels will be deducted from the seminaries' current budget of 1.6 million shekels. The municipality's participation in the activities of the pre-kindergarten classes will also be cut by 20%.

The principals also pointed to comparative statistics which prove that the 60,000 children of the talmudei Torah of Jerusalem will receive a budget of 1.4 million shekel, while an identical number of students studying in secular frameworks will receive 13 million shekels for similar types of programs.

The principals of the talmudei Torah say that it is outrageous that the city's children are discriminated against, based solely on their background. At the meeting, the principals recalled Mayor Olmert's frequent expressions of pride in the equal opportunities afforded to Jerusalem's children, as far as educational conditions are concerned, and that his declarations that he would take measures in order to correct the ongoing budgetary policies of former mayors, who discriminated against chareidi educational frameworks.

The talmud Torah principals complained that not only has the municipality failed to update the budget in a realistic manner, in light of the erosion of the budget, the rise of the indices, and the price increments, but it has even cut the nominal budget. All this, they said, is in addition to the amounts already deducted during the current year in order to balance the budget of '98.

The director of the Chareidi Education Department, Rabbi Meir Fishman, who was at the emergency meeting, heard the talmudei Torah principals point to the negligible amount of renovations made in the talmudei Torah at the opening of the current school year, noting that even conditions which the Education Ministry had deemed security hazards were not repaired.

At the end of the stormy meeting, it was decided to report on the situation to the gedolei Yisroel. It was also decided to hold an urgent meeting with UTJ's representatives in the city council and the Knesset, and to request that they anchor the status of the talmudei Torah in the budgetary records, in consonance with the treatment accorded all the city's other official educational systems.


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