Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Elul 5764 - August 25, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Haifa City Councilman Reduces Funding Cuts for Torah Institutions
by Y. Ariel

Rabbi Aryeh Blitental, United Torah Jewry's representative on the Haifa City Council, blocked a sharp cut in support for religious institutions in Haifa. When Mayor Yonah Yahav honored his request, Shinui city councilors objected strongly, storming out of the City Finance Committee meeting following the reduction of the cut.

The affair began when plans to carry out a drastic cut in funding for yeshivas and kollelim as well as Torah- based cultural funding became known. First Rabbi Blitental turned to the rabbonim of the various kehillos in the city to inform them of the problem. After receiving their guidance he quickly brought the Mayor charts and a presentation to demonstrate the ongoing discrimination against the chareidi sector and the disregard for the basic needs chareidi residents are entitled to as citizens with equal rights.

The presentation proved that while all of the general institutions showed slight reductions, funding for religious institutions was severely curtailed. Mayor Yahav became convinced this was indeed an instance of discrimination and immediately ordered NIS 100,000 ($22,000) be restored. When the matter was then brought before the Finance Committee for approval a major drama unfolded.

Shinui representatives who had received the initial budget documents expressed satisfaction over the slash in funding. When they suddenly saw the Mayor had endeavored to diminish the funding cuts for the yeshivas and kollelim, as well as Torah-based cultural funds, their vociferous protests began.

"Where is there money to add to the yeshiva budget?" they asked with demagogic defiance, intentionally overlooking the original cut. Yonah Yahav did not respond to Shinui's protests and passed the decision in the Finance Committee with a clear majority. After the decision was accepted, the Shinui representatives, including Deputy Mayor Tzvi Dahari, objected to the decision, and stormed out.

Rabbi Blitental noted how Shinui follows a set pattern, based solely on hate rather than any pertinent arguments. "They can defend anything and increase funding for all of the various associations as long as the chareidi sector and its needs are thoroughly trampled over," he said.

According to Rabbi Blitental even Shinui saw the sharp cut was illogical but they presented it in the local media as if the municipality were increasing funding for chareidim. "This is their way and I can only offer praise to Mayor Yonah Yahav for his balanced approach to the arguments raised and his awareness of the needs of the chareidi sector," he said.


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