Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

13 Teves 5760 - December 22, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Chareidi Chinuch Receives a Quarter of What it Deserves

by Eliezer Rauchberger

On Monday, the Finance Committee discussed the budget of the Education Ministry, always an important and sensitive issue for the chareidi community . During the deliberation, a startling fact became known: According to the official figures of the Education Ministry, students of the chareidi educational stream constitute a full 13.1 percent of the entire system, while they receive only 3.9 % of the Education Ministry's budget, and virtually nothing from the local authorities who also fund part of the overall education budget.

Rabbi Moshe Gafni, who disclosed these new figures at the meeting, said that this is a very grave situation. "Until today, I claimed that the chareidi educational system receives only a third of what it deserves. Now it has become clear that it receives only a fourth of what it deserves," he said.

He also complained to the Minister of Education, who was present in the Knesset for the discussion, about the proposal to drastically cut the Torah culture budget. "The budget for general culture was transferred to the Culture Department of Minister Matan Vilnai, and nothing was cut from it in this new budget. The budget for Torah culture has remained with you, and it is greatly reduced. Don't you know how to fight for budgets in your ministry? You know how to fight quite well for what interests you," Rabbi Gafni complained.

"Maybe it would be best to transfer the Torah culture budget to Matan Vilnai too," he added.

The Shas party has intensified its battle to win funding for its Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani schools, and this past Monday (11 Teves) it took a very drastic step, when it refrained from voting on the no-confidence proposal under discussion in the Knesset. Among those who abstained were even the government ministers: Eli Yishai, Yitzchok Cohen, and Shlomo Benizri.

Due to their unmet demands to cover the deficits of the Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani network, Shas' prolonged battle against the government is escalating, as the date for the approval of the budget draws closer. This stage of the process is the one in which they can exert the most pressure.

Concomitantly, especially because of Shas but also due to problems with other parties, there is still no majority in the Knesset Finance Committee to approve the Budget Law and also the Arrangements Law for their second and third reading. Mafdal, a member of the government, announced that toward the end of the week it would decide how to vote on the state budget. The position of the party will be influenced by the degree to which the Finance Minister responds to their demands.

UTJ, which met this past Monday with the Finance Minster still hasn't decided how it will vote. On Tuesday 13 Teves, the members of the party will meet again with Minister Shochat.

During these final weeks, all the parties are trying to get as much as they can for the issues that are dear to them. By law the budget must be approved by the end of the year.

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