Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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5 Nisan 5768 - April 10, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Knesset Education Ministry to Draft Yeshiva Ketanoh Funding Bill

By Yechiel Sever

Next week the Knesset Education Committee will meet to discuss a law currently being prepared for a first reading that addresses the budget for yeshivos ketanos.

The High Court recently ruled that the budget for the yeshivos ketanos should be discontinued. The ruling was in response to suits filed by the Israeli Reform movement claiming funding should be cut off because they do not offer any secular studies.

The Education Ministry Director-General at the time sought to table a law in the Knesset that would allow funding of yeshiva ketanos to continue based on a bill drafted in coordination with senior jurists. As a result of an order issued by the Education Minister the bill was not tabled by the Education Ministry, but MKs from UTJ and Shas tabled the bill instead, bringing it before a plenum session for a preliminary reading with backing from the Prime Minister.

Maranan verabonon issued instructions not to continue with the bill as it was passed in a preliminary reading, telling Vaadas HaRabbonim LeInyonei Chinuch to rewrite it. Several reasons were given: First, its inclusion as an amendment to the general the Government Education Law (rather than a law on its own) was liable to lead to attempts to try to introduce into the yeshivos ketanos principles from the government education system that are not accepted in the Torah world. Second, even if there is not full coercion, incentives could be given to induce institutions to add secular studies in order to receive increased funding.

Vaadas HaRabbonim met with UTJ Knesset members and Shas ministers, to explain to them to present the law in an altered form. The law for the yeshivos ketanos should be independent of the Government Education Law they said, and the curriculum should continue according to the traditional formula passed down throughout the generations, which excludes secular studies, etc.

According to Knesset regulations, the text of a bill can be changed while it's being prepared for a first reading. Therefore MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni and MK Michael Melchior, chairman of the Education Committee, have agreed that next week the committee would discuss the new form of the bill to be presented by Vaadas HaRabbonim.

Yeshiva ketanoh heads are hoping that the legislation process will be accelerated in order to avoid budget problems as well as harm to the traditional ideology followed throughout the generations.


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