At 40 religious councils around the country as of late last
week, last month's wages had not been paid: four councils had
not paid in full and 13 councils had outstanding debts
ranging from two months to ten months, according to a report
presented at the Knesset Finance Committee by Shlomo Stern,
head of the Histadrut's Division of Education and Religious
The report also reveals that 14 religious councils owe money
to local rabbonim. In Ariel, the local rov has not been paid
for 14 months. In Yavneh and Metullah, the local rabbonim
have not received their wages for ten months and in Mazkeret
Batya, the rov has not been paid for three months.
In Telz Stone, religious council workers have not received
their salaries for ten months, in Yeruchom seven months, in
Bat Yam six months, in Yavneh five months, in Rechovot four
months and in Mazkeret Batya three months.
Atty. Meir Shpeigler, religious services commissioner at the
Prime Minister's Office, also submitted a report to the
committee regarding the withheld wages at the religious
councils. His report shows that wages have gone unpaid at 23
religious councils. In the towns of Azor, Ariel, Yavniel,
Bnei Ayish, Rosh Pina and Yehud the local rov has not
received pay for a period of five to 18 months.
At the end of the stormy meeting, Committee Chairman MK Rabbi
Yaakov Litzman announced that he would summon the authority
heads of Ariel, Bat Yam, Yehud, Rosh Pina, Chatzor Haglilit
and Alfei Menashe to provide explanations why they have not
transferred part of the local authority funding to the
religious council as required by law, thereby preventing
religious council workers and rabbonim from receiving their
As a sign of protest, burial services were suspended on
Monday in Chatzor Haglilit, Lod, Alichin and Kiryat Gat. The
Histadrut says that every day burial services will be
suspended in a different location.
Stern says the actions taken were unavoidable. "We apologize
to the families of the deceased but the Prime Minister is the
one who is burying the religious councils," he said. "It is
unconscionable that at some councils there are workers who
have not received their wages for ten months."
Histadrut spokesmen say that after the Religious Affairs
Ministry was dismantled, the religious councils came under
the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister's Office, "but all of
the officials handling the matter, [namely] the Prime
Minister's Office and the local authorities, have avoided
solving the wage problem."