Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar 5761 - March 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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

Opinion & Comment
Paying the Orchestra

by P. Moses

Everyone is equal before the law--except for those who are more equal than others.

The well-endowed incitement racket that has taken shape over the last few years in the area of budget payments to Torah institutions relies heavily on a procedural principle that government funds should not be distributed without fixed, standardized eligibility criteria.

Based on this principle, the state has built a complex system of criteria that invariably lead anyone familiar with it to the conclusion that the requirements were specifically instituted to hinder Torah institutions--which are perceived very unfavorably by several senior officials in relevant government ministries--from receiving budgetary payments.

The tough battle that has been waged has not yet been resolved, but it is founded on the assumption that in a modern, well-run country all citizens are equal before the law and all organizations that receive public funds must meet objective eligibility requirements in order to receive public funds. But a High Court appeal filed by the Cameretta Orchestra provides a reminder of the fact that not only are all sorts of "cultural" organizations funded through the state budget, but also that the concept of criteria, which is so important in other cases, is relatively unfamiliar to these organizations.

Unlike the various funds funneled into all kinds of state- supported orchestras, an orchestra by the name of Cameretta did not receive enough funding to keep it satisfied. According to the orchestra's claims, it is eligible and should receive comparable sums to those received by competing orchestras. If the state can afford to fund orchestras, why shouldn't they share in the spoils?

It was in a state of distress over this matter that the orchestra turned to the High Court arguing that the Ministry of Culture was discriminating against it compared with other similar orchestras that receive much larger allotments of State funds.

Following the appeal, the High Court issued an injunction, at the orchestra's request, requiring the Ministry of Culture to publish standardized criteria according to which the various cultural associations would be given state funds. The heads of the Ministry of Education and Culture, who fought tooth and nail to make the payment of grants to Torah institutions dependent on standardized criteria, apparently forgot to ensure that government support for organizations they deem worthy also function according to such criteria.

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