Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Iyar 5768 - May 29, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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No-Confidence Motion on Jewish Studies Funding Defeated

By Eliezer Rauchberger

"You said you're a government of compassion. You said you're a government that wants to help and that you're not anti- religious. You go to the Reform — but what about our children? Perhaps you'll allow our children to live, too?"

These remarks were leveled at the Education Minister by MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni as he presented a no-confidence motion to the Knesset early this week, representing UTJ and HaIchud HaLeumi-NRP on the issue of "the Education Ministry's harm to the Jewish studies budget increase."

The motion was defeated by a majority coalition vote along with the other no-confidence motions tabled by the opposition, including a no-confidence motion over the present negotiations with Syria. Forty-eight coalition MKs supported the government by voting against the no-confidence motion, including the Shas representatives, while 32 MKs from the opposition voted in favor and four MKs from the Arab parties abstained.

Rabbi Gafni opened by saying that four years ago the Jewish studies budget came to NIS 340 (then about $85) per student under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Now that the matter is being handled by the Education Ministry that figure has fallen to NIS 70 (about $20 according to the current exchange rate), and even these funds are not provided and the systems are collapsing.

Turning to the Shas representatives, Rabbi Gafni asked, "Don't you have children in yeshivot ketanot? Don't you have children in special education? Don't they need funding for Jewish studies?"

He went on to note that during the Pesach recess the Knesset Education Committee finished discussing the law arranging funding for the yeshivos ketanos, but Committee Chairman MK Melchior said at the time he hoped within two weeks the Ministerial Committee would determine its stance regarding the law. Though much more than two weeks have gone by, the Ministerial Committee has not discussed the issue or reached a decision. "Neither the Education Minister nor Shas. Nobody has brought this up, as if there are no such children, as if there is no such education system in the State of Israel. As if this simply doesn't exist. Does this government really have the right to continue? You make the decision. Say these children should be thrown into the sea. Say they should emigrate. Say what you will, but say something!"

Rabbi Gafni then lodged criticism against Shas, which continues to sit in the government coalition but has done nothing to advance a bill regarding the yeshivos ketanos. "What are they thinking? I can't understand it. They have two representatives on the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Today they're the thread holding the government together. If they were to come and demand jobs, I would understand it if the government didn't give them jobs. Fine. But here it's a question of existence. It's perfectly obvious and there's no doubt that had Eli Yishai come to the Prime Minister and the Education Minister and said, `I'm asking you to pass the law,' the law would have gotten passed."

Rabbi Gafni also fired piercing remarks at the Education Minister and her call to the Reform movement to bring content for the education system while abusing the chareidi education system.

He concluded his speech by saying he expects nothing of the government regarding the law that would arrange for yeshiva ketanoh funding and expressed hopes that the Knesset Education Committee would continue the process and advance the law to a first reading.


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