Yeshivos gedolos will be eligible for discounts on
local taxes following extensive efforts by Betzedek.
Yeshivas used to receive local tax breaks either based on
Paragraph 4 of the city tax order, which classifies them as
"educational institutions" or based on Paragraph 5, which
classifies them as "voluntary institutions."
Following a High Court appeal, the Interior Ministry set 13
criteria for Paragraph 5, including some that appeared to
make yeshivas ineligible for the discounts if talmidim
enrolled there resided in a different local authority or
outside the country.
The authority to grant recognition as an "educational
institution" was vested solely in the Interior Ministry's
district administrator, while local authorities played no
role in making the decision. At the beginning of the year the
Interior Ministry's legal advisor even told district
administrators that regarding local tax discounts the term
"educational institution" applied only to institutions with
students age 18 and under.
As a result of this directive hundreds of yeshivos
gedolos were required to pay the full amount in local
taxes for 2004. Some authorities even required an additional
payment for 2003 as well. These enormous sums were enough to
pose a threat to the Torah world. A few local authorities
have already sent out warnings water to yeshivas with
outstanding debts would be disconnected.
Betzedek, run by Rabbi Attorney Mordechai Green, contacted
the Interior Ministry's district administrators and asked to
see the criteria for receiving the status "educational
institution," which did indeed indicate only institutions
with students 18 and under were eligible.
The organization then informed the Interior Ministry of the
seriousness of the faulty interpretation and even prepared to
submit a High Court appeal unless it honored demands to
continue granting the discount to all yeshivas--regardless of
the age of the students enrolled. Green claimed the Interior
Ministry's policy discriminated against Torah institutions
and was inconsistent with the Foundation Laws and High Court
Following an exchange of letters, the Interior Ministry's
legal department notified Betzedek that the ministry had
agreed determining "educational institution" status would be
left to the local authority rather than the Interior Ministry
By demonstrating that this interpretation was established by
a High Court decision two years ago Betzedek paved the way
for resuming the local tax breaks given to all yeshivas in
All yeshivas should verify they have been recognized as an
"educational institution" by the respective municipality or
local authority, and if not the decision can be appealed in