Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Elul 5765 - September 7, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Government Pledges to Assist Torah-Based Dorm Facilities

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

"We will assist dormitory Torah institutions whose budgets were cut one year ago as well as Torah-based frameworks for students not [enrolled] at existing institutions using funding sources beyond the State budget," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised Deputy Welfare Minister MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz during a meeting on the issues of welfare and education.

Sharon and Rabbi Ravitz discussed the Ministerial Committee's approach to handling poverty. The Prime Minister said he intends to attack the problem head-on, focusing his attention on confronting poverty among yaldei Yisroel.

Rabbi Ravitz, who attended an earlier meeting of the Work, Welfare and Health Committee on the issue of poverty among Jewish children, said that even after the Prime Minister issued instructions to stop discrimination in the hot-lunch program the problem has not yet been solved and there are still children being blackballed and denied a bowl of soup and a slice of bread. As a result the mayor of the chareidi city Beitar was compelled to petition the High Court to order the government to include the children of his town in the program.

The Prime Minister signed revisions to support criteria for the Welfare Ministry's public institutions and they are currently being listed on the books. Before the school year opened last year, then Welfare Minister Zevulun Orlev announced the discontinuation of funding for chareidi dorm facilities until the criteria were revised. Orlev formed a "team of experts" to change the funding criteria in accordance with his worldview. Meanwhile he cut the funding from NIS 60 million to just NIS 28 million. In response to a question by MK Chemi Doron (Shinui), Orlev explained frankly that he had cut the budget after "discovering" that the majority of dorm facilities were chareidi.

Orlev made three changes in the criteria that created serious problems for yeshivos ketanos, yeshivos gedolos (where talmidim under age 18 are also eligible) and other Torah institutions. One paragraph restricts funding to institutions with a minimum enrollment of 60 students living in the dormitories; another paragraph states that a student is only eligible to receive funding if he resides outside the city where the institution is located or his family has four other young children who do not receive direct or indirect dormitory facility funding from the State; and a third paragraph increases funding by 20 percent to institutions where students take part in secular studies—a paragraph obviously not motivated by welfare considerations.

Yeshiva organizations announced that these conditions make it difficult for them to operate and many of them are now on the verge of collapse. They also announced that the opening of new yeshivos ketanos would be very difficult in the coming school year.

Since taking office as deputy minister of welfare (with no full minister above him) Rabbi Ravitz said his primary aim is to restore what was stolen from yeshiva students. Rabbi Ravitz and the ministry staff have consulted with various figures involved in these matters as part of his efforts to reinstate the original criteria.

The three discriminatory criteria have now been changed and no longer apply. Support funding will be transferred to Torah- based institutions with a minimum of 30 students. The secular studies paragraph was deleted and a different criteria has replaced the requirement for the recipient to have four siblings studying in dorm facilities without State support.

Rabbi Ravitz also met with Finance Ministry and Prime Minister's Office officials as part of efforts to restore cutback yeshiva funding.


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