Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Nissan 5764 - March 25, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Families of Religious Council Workers on Brink of Hunger
by Eliezer Rauchberger

"The fact that thousands of families of religious council and local authority workers have remained without pay and the State has refrained from attending to the matter is a crime," said Knesset Interior Committee Chairman Yuri Stern (HaIchud HaLeumi) on Sunday, referring to the failure to pay religious council workers, which has brought religious services in the country to the verge of collapse.

In a committee meeting to discuss the stoppage of religious services in the country, Stern expressed concern that Israelis and many tourists who come to Eretz Yisroel for the Pesach holiday would remain without kashrus for Pesach if another strike is declared by those in charge of religious services, thereby stopping kashrus services in hotels. "This would do very serious harm to domestic and foreign tourism," he warned.

Rav Yehuda Landau, head of the marriage department at the Tel Aviv Rabbinate, said that during the strike most religious services were discontinued--marriage registration, issuing marriage licenses and marital status certificates, and shechitoh was brought to a complete halt. "If we are forced to do so we will completely stop supervision over hotels and poultry shechitoh," he warned, saying some workers are on the brink of hunger and have begun going to soup kitchens. Workers have been thrown out of their homes and some cannot provide food and clothing for their children.

HaRav Dovid Shapira, rov of Jerusalem's Beit Hakerem neighborhood, said, "After the state's 55 years of existence we did not believe we would reach such a horrible situation as this in which we will be forced to fight for Jewish life and the existence of religious services."

MK Nisan Slomiansky (NRP) said the State is supposed to transfer NIS 110 million to the religious councils, but this amount would not solve the problem since the amount owed for back pay alone comes to NIS 160 million. After recovery programs, money is supposed to be channeled to the religious councils, but so far there has been no recovery program. He also says provisions must be made to insure that money transferred to the religious councils goes towards paying back wages and not to cover other debts.

MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said the problem of the religious councils is easily solved. "If MKs Nisan Slomiansky of the NRP and Michael Nudelman of HaIchud HaLeumi, as members of the Finance Committee representing the coalition, declare they will not support any budget transfer requested by the Finance Ministry until the religious workers are paid, the problem would be solved."

Histadrut representative Shlomo Stern said the Histadrut will not sign any recovery program without prior consultation.

Mr. Meir Shpiegler, former Religious Ministry Director- General, said the government made a decision to close the ministry without considering the repercussions. He says the ministry is currently working on defining which religious services will be made available.


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