Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar I 5768 - March 6, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Chinuch Atzmai School in Or Yehuda Spared Third Electricity Cutoff

By A. Cohen

Following several days of concerted efforts, the threat of cutting off the electricity for the third time was removed at Michtav L'Eliyahu, a Chinuch Atzmai school in Or Yehuda, after the Dessler family, the descendants of HaRav Eliyohu Dessler zt"l, responded to a request by Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, to pay the school's electricity bill.

A few weeks ago the electricity was disconnected at the school after the Or Yehuda Municipality refused to pay the electricity bill, claiming that it was not legally allowed to do so since the amendment to the Local Authorities Law has yet to go into effect since the Education Ministry has not drawn up regulations. Due to broad public pressure Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer promised that the Electric Corporation would extend the school's payment deadline until the end of February.

Just days before the deadline, the Interior Ministry's legal advisor sent a letter promising that once the parameters of the Local Authorities Law — which requires (and allows) local authorities pay 75 percent of maintenance costs at chareidi schools — are set, the matter of the bill for electrical usage since the start of 2008 would be settled. However, a solution had not been found for outstanding bills for last year, which amount to NIS 30,000 ($8,300) and mushroomed to NIS 40,000 ($11,000) with fines. Recently it was suggested the school's parent committee cover the bill, but that proposal was rejected.

Last week Lazer Fuchs, the Electric Corporation's manager for the Central District, sent an urgent letter to Rabbi Lazerson saying that he had been instructed by the CEO to disconnect the electricity if the debt was not paid by February 28th. "Following your moving letter of Wednesday, February 27th, I postponed executing the disconnection until this morning in order to spare the students unnecessary suffering and to give the arrangement made a chance to be carried out. I was surprised today by the fact that the payment had not been executed and certainly this is a deep disappointment for both of us. In summary, as much as it pains me, the Electric Corporation will be forced to carry out the disconnection tomorrow morning at 8:00 am in the event the debt is not settled."

Upon receiving the letter at the Chinuch Atzmai offices, Rabbi Lazerson immediately contacted the Dessler family in the US and told them about the dire situation facing the school named after HaRav Eliyohu Dessler zt"l, noting that cutting off the electricity for the third time could have a disastrous, irreversible effect on parents. The school stood to incur major financial losses, especially at this time of year when registration for the next school year is in full swing.

The Dessler family responded by sending notice it would cover the NIS 40,000 debt and Rabbi Lazerson then notified Mr. Fuchs of the Electric Corporation, who cancelled the disconnection order.


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