Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Iyar 5764 - May 19, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Finance Committee Finally Approves Transfer of NIS 32 Million for Yeshivas
By Eliezer Rauchberger

Following six months of delays and exhausting struggles by chareidi representatives in the Knesset Finance Committee against MK Roni Brizon (Shinui), on Monday the committee approved the transfer of NIS 32 million in yeshiva funding from 2003 budget surplus.

Brizon, who tried to torpedo the transfer until the very last moment, announced he intends to file a High Court appeal to prevent the transfers from being executed.

The transfer was approved in two votes. First the committee members voted on whether to designate it "a special case" based on a demand by Knesset Legal Advisor Attorney A. Schneider. This vote won a majority of supporters from the coalition parties--Likud, HaIchud HaLeumi and NRP--which were joined by UTJ and Shas, and even MK Chaim Oron of Meretz. The two Shinui MKs were the only opponents. Labor representatives abstained. The second vote, on the transfer itself, brought the same results except that Oron also abstained.

The NIS 32 million are divided as follows: 18 million are designated for kollel budgets, 12 million for yeshiva budgets and another 2 million for Hesder yeshivas.

Chareidi MKs were ready for action from the morning since last week the Finance Ministry promised to bring the matter before the Finance Committee on Monday. Indeed the request arrived in the morning but Committee Chairman MK Avraham Hirshzon announced that the issue would be the last item on the day's agenda. When the matter was raised at 8:00 p.m. following a long day of meetings, the chareidi MKs decided not to respond to MK Brizon's attacks in order to allow the vote to be held as early as possible and to avoid raising tempers which could hurt the chances of passing the budget transfer.

When the Knesset Legal Advisor told MKs that according to regulations two votes must be held, one to define the matter as a special case since usually money from a budget surplus may only be used in the first month of the new year. The second vote would be for the actual transfer. MK Brizon demanded that she define the term "special case." She said she could not provide legal advice on the matter but rather that the MKs would have to decide based on the facts.

After the transfer was passed the chareidi MKs shook hands with Committee Chairman Hirshzon, thanking him for keeping the proceedings quick. MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni told MK Brizon that if he goes to the High Court the yeshivas could wind up receiving more funding since the NIS 32 million they approved was insufficient to cover everything the State promised.

MK Rabbi Yisroel Eichler explained that "while the Soton is dancing" one must go ever so quietly, so the chareidi MKs had no alternative other than to grin and bear the disparaging remarks. "Billions are passed here every day," he said, "and only when money to the yeshivas is approved is there such a scandal here. But the objective is the most important thing, and boruch Hashem it was achieved."

The Finance Committee also approved budget transfers for the religious councils and the Rabbinate botei din on Monday.


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