Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Iyar 5764 - May 12, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











A Wave of Layoffs in Chareidi Education?
By Betzalel Kahn

The government's harsh decrees against Torah institutions and the chareidi education system is causing increasing strain that has led to the possibility of large-scale layoffs at institutions that lack the means to maintain operations as needed. Both yeshivas and talmudei Torah, whose budgets were cut drastically last year, are facing severe difficulties.

For months the current government has been casting out Torah institutions in Eretz Yisroel, from the dismantling of the Religious Affairs Ministry to budget slashing to imposing strict criteria as a condition for support funding.

With the recent announcements of a new set of criteria at institutions for students under the age of 18 and at dormitory facilities, many principals said they cannot hold up under such decrees nor can they handle the enormous debts they assumed during the course of last year.

Torah institution heads claim that every element of the budget addressing Torah institutions contains a mortal blow that has led many institutions to stop paying suppliers, and avreichim and ramim at many institutions have not received their salaries for months.

Additional budget cuts anticipated in the coming months will cause further difficulties and are liable to hinder development of the Torah world. This dire forecast results from a total funding cut for Torah institutions of approximately 70 percent compared to previous years.

The same applies at yeshivos gedolos and kollelim, where the government cut budgets by over 50 percent as part of the economic recovery program. Torah institution heads have voiced strong opposition to the government's deplorable decision "to encourage avreichei kollelim to go to work, and toward this end a sweeping reduction must be made in the support they receive," a move the Torah world is unwilling to accept under any circumstances since it represents a destructive blow and blatant government intervention in the Torah world, which has been marching along its unique path for generations.

Torah institution heads say in addition to the Welfare Ministry's 60 percent cut in funding for students under the age of 18 and stricter eligibility requirements, preference has been given to institutions that hold high school matriculation exams, though the issue is unrelated to this ministry. According to institution heads, what remains of the budget allocations has been delayed for nine months; not a single shekel has actually been transferred since the beginning of the school year.

Neither have the talmudei Torah been spared from the economic decrees. In addition to an across-the-board cut of 6 percent of Education Ministry funding for all schools, talmud Torah funding was reduced by another 11 percent, along with various other cuts that brought the reduction to a total of 18 percent. Talmudei Torah now receive proportionally half the amount allotted to government educational institutions.

Now that several new economic decrees are taking effect talmud Torah principals and directors, many of whom faced financial difficulties before the recent cuts, will have to confront additional challenges. Principals and managers are currently organizing to raise an outcry against the severe discrimination directed at the chareidi education system and to take every measure possible to rectify the injustices.


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