Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Sivan 5764 - June 9, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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











Campaign to Rehabilitate Religious Services
By Eliezer Rauchberger

At a meeting of the Knesset Religious Lobby participants raised various proposals to continue the campaign begun three weeks ago when chareidi MKs caused the breakdown of a plenum. But at the end of the meeting, which included representatives of the religious councils and the rabbonim, it was decided to accommodate the request by Ilan Cohen, the new director- general of the Prime Minister's Office, who said he needs time to study the issue and find a solution.

The strain on religious services and the failure to pay the salaries of the religious council workers was brought up at a meeting of HaIchud HaLeumi.

The NRP also discussed the issue at its weekly meeting two weeks ago and at the end announced it would not be able to remain a member of the coalition as long as religious services continue to collapse. The party also demanded that authority and responsibility for religious services and the religious councils be restored to Deputy Minister MK Yitzhak Levy. Now that Rabbi Levy has resigned due to settlement issues, it is not clear what will be done.

The chareidi parties were very doubtful regarding the announcement the NRP could resign from the coalition due to the damage done to religious services, saying the NRP is itself largely responsible for the current state of religious services, adding that apparently they have no red lines.

Present at the NRP meeting to discuss the collapse of religious services and the failure to pay many religious council workers and rabbonim were Ilan Cohen and Government Secretary Yisrael Maimon.

Party Chairman and Housing Minister Effi Eitam said, "The NRP will not take part in a government that harms religious services. The Prime Minister must honor the coalition agreement and all other agreements between the Likud and the NRP." Eitam also demanded the authority over religious services be given back to Deputy Minister Levy "in order to bring about the rehabilitation of the religious services system and to lead a recovery process at the religious councils." However, the issue which Eitam resigned over was the settlements.

Welfare Minister Zevulun Orlev said "a situation in which [many] do not receive their pay, mikvehs are closed and marriage registry is not held" cannot be tolerated. He claimed, "The NRP cannot take part in a government responsible for the destruction of religious services, that the party has its red lines and [crossing it] is just a matter of days away."

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni lodged piercing criticism of the NRP's conduct. "Turning to MK Shaul Yahalom (who has still not resigned from the government) he said, "Who do you hold to blame? The large party? The ruling party? The Likud? True. Shinui? True. But you are partners in what this government has been doing to religious services for the past year and three months. There's a limit. You are partners in this matter."

Later he told NRP members they should have more of an obligation to attend to religious services than the chareidi MKs. "On this you say Hallel on Independence Day. This is what you've been preaching to me about for years. You say to me, `We are religious Zionism, the incipient sprouting of our Geulah.' The State of Israel. What is the State of Israel-- the incipient sprouting of our Geulah?

"The first thing is religious services. This is a Jewish state. How will you cast off your shame in light of the religious council workers, the mikva workers sitting here? How can you be unashamed to look them in the face? I admit to not saying Hallel on Independence Day. But you--the total collapse of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. You should have voted against the government today. This is not just a matter of salaries. This is a matter that in no properly run nation in the world, no democratic nation, could such a thing take place that wages are withheld for a month, two months, three months, a year, a year and seven months. A retired man arrived at the religious council in Tel Aviv on Thursday asking for a loan to buy medicine. He has not received a salary for several months. He has to buy medicine. On Sunday his funeral was held. I am not talking humane, I am not talking democratic, I am not speaking about some sort of human sensitivity or cruelty to animals. Men, women, children. I am talking about a Jewish state. And you, Shaul Yahalom, say Hallel on Independence Day."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.