Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Ellul 5761 - August 29, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Promises, Promises, Promises: Yeshiva Funding Finally Approved
by Betzalel Kahn

Yeshiva subsidies that had been withheld last month were transferred almost in their entirety last week. This brings to an end the latest Finance Ministry incitement campaign against the yeshiva world.

Of the 300 institutions whose subsidies were withheld due to errors found in audits performed by independent accountants, 270 institutions were approved in subsequent audits. The Ministry promises to transfer the additional funds owed to the chareidi sector in a timely manner.

On 3 Elul, Rabbi Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, expressed his perplexity about the delay in funding to the chairman of the Religious Affairs Ministry. As a result, Rabbi Gafni and the Director of the Religious Affairs Ministry met with the assistant general bursar of the Finance Ministry, Tzvika Chalamish, who agreed to transfer funds to the 270 institutions. Audits of the records of the other 30 institutions will be completed shortly.

Rabbi Gafni was referring to the following items: NIS 9 million to shmittah observing farmers; NIS 11 million to seminaries; a promise to increase subsides for growing talmudei Torah and monies owed to the yeshiva world. A number of the subsidies were due months ago. During negotiations for this year's budget, the Finance Minister had promised that the funds would be transferred. However, no moves in that direction had been made.

The Office of the Finance Minister has announced that, "Minister Shalom has instructed the staff of the Budget Department to transfer the money immediately, and the money for the shmittah observing farmers will be forwarded on Sunday, Elul 7. The other subsidies will be transferred shortly."

The Finance Ministry had withheld the subsidies of 300 Torah institutions last month, after audits indicated that the yeshivos had supposedly not abided by all necessary bureaucratic procedures.

Following that announcement, Finance Ministry and Religious Affairs Ministry clerks spent hours going over lists and formulating new procedures to process the subsidy request forms for Torah institutions. 270 out of 300 (90%) of the institutions were quickly approved following the second audit.

Since the list of 300 was supposed to be a final list and not just a preliminary one, the fact that 90 percent of it was soon cancelled raised doubts about the motives in the original announcement. Even the remaining 30 institutions are undergoing further checking and many of them may be approved.

Despite this, the Finance Ministry still delayed the transfer of funds.

The noisy disqualification of hundreds of institutions aroused the anger of the Religious Affairs Ministry, the yeshiva world and the chareidi representatives in the Knesset against the Finance Ministry, especially since some of the auditing was done during bein hazmanim. Sometimes tiny institutions with a total of ten students from whom two or three where absent were disqualified, and in reporting on this the auditors stated that 20-30 percent of the students were not present.

Religious Affairs Ministry clerks also claim that the audit by the Finance Ministry was conducted improperly and, as a result, had to be repeated. However, the second audit was also flawed. Clerks from both ministries went over all the lists and found many mistakes stemming from auditing methods. As a result of their work, 270 institutions were taken off the list and will receive last month's subsidies.

Rabbi Moshe Gafni told Yated Ne'eman that next month will also bring a problem in yeshiva subsidies, but that Finance Minister Silvan Shalom has promised UTJ to transfer the necessary funds. Rabbi Gafni said that we must make certain that this promise is indeed fulfilled. "We are tired of a situation in which the Torah world is held hostage by Finance Ministry clerks and at the end of every fiscal year we have to ask for the money owed us. We will insist that funding for yeshivos be an integral part of the formulation of next year's budget," Rabbi Gafni said.


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