Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Iyar 5768 - May 22, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Kol Korei in Support of Chinuch Atzmai Bus Program

By Yechiel Sever

Gedolei Yisroel shlita have issued an urgent plea asking generous donors to help support Keren Hahasa'ot, which provides funding to operate the bus system that brings thousands of boys and girls from outlying areas to Beis Yaakov and other Chinuch Atzmai schools every day. The vast majority of these students come from traditional, but non- observant homes.

In their notice regarding the crisis Keren Hahasa'ot is facing due to some $3 million in back payments to bus companies, maranan verabonon note that the spiritual lives of these students and their family members depend on whether they are able to receive a proper education at talmudei Torah and Beis Yaakov schools. "The holy enterprise of talmudei Torah and Beis Yaakov schools operated by Chinuch Atzmai is in danger of losing 20,000 yaldei Yisroel, mostly from peripheral towns, and the vast majority from traditional homes where their spiritual survival and that of their family members depends on the education they receive at talmudei Torah and Beis Yaakov schools. This [danger] was brought about when the government stopped [funding] the buses that enabled the students to attend. If they succeed in this, chas vesholom, it would be a decree not just against these students, but against other students as well, since the schools would have to close down due to insufficient enrollment, and if we fail to come to their aid, chas vesholom, thousands of Jews will forget the Torah, and then what will we have to say for ourselves on Judgment Day?"

In response to the crisis situation the heads of Keren Hahasa'ot, HaRav Yosef Efrati, HaRav Chizkiyohu Mishkovsky, HaRav Mordechai Karelitz and HaRav Yaakov Virzhbinsky, held an emergency meeting in Jerusalem to discuss how to deal with the enormous debt, which has to be settled before the end of the school year. HaRav Yitzchok Levinstein was also at the meeting.

Keren Hahasa'ot was formed two years ago by Maran HaRav Eliashiv and the Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman shlita when the government failed to transfer payment for transportation costs, based on dubious claims devised by jurists.

Until then the government had provided partial funding for the Chinuch Atzmai bussing program. At government schools the remaining transportation costs were covered by the local authorities, whereas Chinuch Atzmai institutions had to obtain the balance of funding through coalition agreements. Two years ago, although the balance of funding had been arranged and approved by the Knesset Finance Committee, jurists blocked the transfer of payment, claiming it was illegal and citing a High Court decision in a petition filed by the Reform Movement.

In a settlement with the government it was decided that the government would continue to provide funding which covered half of the transportation costs, while the balance would be paid by Keren Hahasa'ot based on fundraising. Last year, through chasdei Shomayim, the heads of the Keren managed to raise the needed funds, which came to $6 million. This year, due to the devaluation of the dollar, the Keren had to raise a total of $7 million but at present, two months before the end of the school year, the Keren is still $3 million short and in danger of collapse.

At the beginning of the meeting Keren heads noted the great importance attached to this enterprise by gedolei Yisroel, who themselves undertook the burden of raising money for yaldei Yisroel. They also quoted Maran HaRav Eliashiv, who said maintaining Keren Hahasa'ot is part of the obligation to maintain the pure Jewish education at Chinuch Atzmai institutions.


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