Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Adar 5767 - March 15, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Government Backs Bill to Provide Equal Funding for Chareidi Education

By Betzalel Kahn and Eliezer Rauchberger

A bill submitted by Minister Meshulam Nahari (Shas) to force local authorities to fund chareidi educational institutions at the same level they fund all other educational institutions was passed by a large majority during Sunday's cabinet meeting. All government ministers supported the bill except for Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who abstained after issuing blatant remarks against the equality being demanded for children in the chareidi education systems.

Nahari's bill would obligate local authorities to provide recognized but unofficial educational institutions the same funding that government schools receive from them. The bill resembles a proposal brought before the Knesset by MKs Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz and Rabbi Moshe Gafni.

Nahari's bill calls for funding of all "recognized unofficial" institutions, which includes not only Chinuch Atzmai and Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani schools, but also Arab schools, church schools, elite secular schools and other institutions (but not talmudei Torah, which are classified as "exempt institutions"). Meanwhile the UTJ- sponsored bill would force local authorities to provide Chinuch Atzmai and Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani schools the same funding government schools receive.

Nahari's bill has been discussed before, but due to opposition by the Education Minister it was decided that the Education Ministry would submit a bill. But instead of executing the government's decision she tried to torpedo the approval process and even enlisted the mayors of large cities to thwart Minister Nahari's proposal.

Nahari then decided to raise the proposed law at any price, even a head-on collision with the Education Ministry, who had to face off against the other government ministers, including the Prime Minister. "For years," PM Olmert told the cabinet meeting, "chareidi education has been discriminated against and the chareidi sector's needs have been overlooked. This has to stop."

The Education Minister condemned the proposal, warning that if the law was passed "the state would fund not just chareidi education, but the educational institutions of the Hamas and the Islamic Movement as well. Independent institutions that do not allow state oversight and are unwilling to bring into the education system the curriculum the state would like [taught] at all of its institutions cannot be permitted to receive state funds."

In response Shas ministers pounced on Tamir. "When the real arguments are finished the threats to the public begin," said Minister Yitzchak Cohen, charging Tamir's entire aim is to continue the discrimination against chareidi education and in favor of government education. "Chareidi students are not second-class," he argued.

The PM ended the heated exchange by voicing support for Minister Nahari's proposal and after all cabinet members except for Tamir backed the bill, the government decided that, pending its final approval in the Knesset, which could take months, the Education Minister, together with the local authorities, should try to formulate equal criteria for local authorities seeking to fund recognized but unofficial institutions.

During a meeting on Monday between MKs Ravitz and Gafni and Shas Chairman MK Eli Yishai an agreement was made to combine the two bills once Nahari's proposal is brought before the Knesset and approved by the Ministerial Legislating Committee.


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