Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Kislev 5766 - December 7, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











MK Gafni Asks Mazuz Why Funding Not Transferred to Chareidi Educational Institutions

by G. Kleiman

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni sent a letter to Attorney General Mani Mazuz asking why other funding pledged in the coalition agreement — NIS 600 million for Labor and NIS 700 million for Shinui — was transferred long ago whereas the NIS 150 million United Torah Jewry was promised for chareidi educational institutions is still being withheld.

"The delays are said to be justified by claims that the chareidi institutions do not meet the criteria. Moreover, every day new issues and various reasons, based on ideological or economic motivations, arise. The result is that you do not transfer the funding, even though we have arrived at the end of the budget year," writes Rabbi Gafni.

"The coalition agreement signed between the Likud under Prime Minister Mr. Ariel Sharon and UTJ on 25 Teves 5765 states that in the budget clauses for chareidi educational institutions that had larger cuts than the across-the-board cuts at the government ministries, a portion of these cuts would be restored, including talmudei Torah, girls' seminaries, kindergartens, bussing for Chinuch Atzmai, student insurance, dormitories and Jewish Culture—a total of NIS 150 million brought into the basic budget and approved by the Knesset in the state budget.

"Your office has long been delaying the transfer of these funds to the above educational institutions, claiming it has to check whether they meet the required criteria. My only contention is that you did not withhold the NIS 700 million arranged with the Shinui Party and the NIS 600 million arranged with the Labor Party. My requests to accelerate the checking process and complete it have been ineffective and have been met with claims that new issues are constantly arising on various matters (the vast majority of which are religious matters and matters affecting the chareidi public) and [you] have been unable to complete the checking process although we are already at the end of the budget year.

"Your office has caused the following consequences for the chareidi public: the budget for talmudei Torah has been cut and teachers are not receiving their wages, or the parents, the majority of whom are in low socioeconomic circumstances, are compelled to pay tuition fees even higher than the already high tuition, further cuts in the budget for girls' seminaries or fewer girls are admitted to these institutions, etc.

"In Jewish Culture the situation is much more bleak. Since the beginning of the budget year not a single shekel has been transferred to the cultural organizations and the teachers and lecturers have not been receiving their wages.

"The money for Chinuch Atzmai bussing has not been transferred, although all agree that those programs are under- funded due to the failure of the local authorities to participate — and your office claims that this abnormal situation is legal.

"Meanwhile your office is demanding that Chinuch Atzmai study 100 percent of the Core Curriculum program. And if they study any less than 100 percent they will receive only 75 percent of funding, even if they study 95 percent of the curriculum. Incidentally your instructions, according to the conversation we held, that the funding would be totally matched and must be implemented gradually by the 5765 school year, were not carried out. A letter by the director of the Department for Accredited Education, ostensibly based on your orders, demanded a full cut.

"All this in spite of the fact the local authorities funding is part of the education budget, such as bussing and many other issues you say Chinuch Atzmai is entitled to and does not receive. You claim the Chinuch Atzmai budget is totally legitimate and everything is done in the name of justice, law and equality.

"I would like to stress that all of the Education Ministry's plans, such as the Dovrat Committee, the Core Curriculum Program and the Meitzav Exams, were the result of the collapse of the general education system, a reality that did not affect the chareidi education system as demonstrated by all of the regional and international assessments and tests and as every schoolboy knows. Sometimes it seems all of these plans are done just in order to strike at the successful chareidi education system.

"I have many other examples in my bag to cite, but I will share only one. The Foreign Affairs and Security Committee approved Defense Ministry regulations according to which a kollel is defined as a place where avreichim study 40 hours per week, and the committee, along with Deputy Attorney General Mr. Yehoshua Shufman, accepted the distinction between the amount of study time demanded of an avreich and the amount of study time at a [yeshiva]. My letter to you dated 13 Av 5765 asking you to change the criteria at the Education Ministry accordingly has yet to receive a reply to this day, apparently because of the numerous activities your are engaged in as mentioned above, or because somebody at your office finds this distinction not to his liking.

"Maran the Brisker Rov zt"l said when there are one or two kushyos one should look for a teirutz. But when there are many kushyos, one should learn the sugya all over from the beginning. I have done this and my conclusions regarding your office's attitude toward the chareidi public are very dark.

"I hereby request an urgent meeting with you to discuss these issues or that instructions be given to your staff to allow the chareidi public and its children to live in this Land according to its world view and way of life, as in the past."


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