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19 Iyar 5760 - May 24, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Roshei Kollel Committee to Minimize Government Office Red- Tape

by Betzalel Kahn

Scores of roshei kollel met in Jerusalem during the week after Pesach to discuss problems facing the kollelim and the difficulties they encounter in dealing with the Government.

The red-tape that kollelim have recently been forced to undergo in Government offices was discussed among other more general issues. Difficulties were encountered by a group of kollelim whose names were deleted from a Government computer and, as a result, the kollel received no subsidies for two months. In addition, a number of kollelim were recently unable to receive "proper management certification" due to the tightening of regulations for the management of nonprofit organizations. As a result, their steady subsidies were also considerably delayed. The necessary certification was denied for trivial reasons.

It was also claimed that each time the support of an institution is halted for any reason, it is done without any advance notice on the part of the Government office. The rosh kollel discovers that the subsidy has been stopped only when it does not appear in his bank account on the due date.

The roshei kollel raised an additional problem. Many nonprofit organizations were obligated to undergo a routine audit by an independent accountant which took a long time. However, while a nonprofit organization is undergoing such an audit it cannot receive "proper management certification." As a result, its governmental support is totally withheld. The roshei kollel complained about this, noting that it makes no sense to stop support of an institution because it hasn't received proper management certification because it is undergoing a routine audit with no suspicion of any wrongdoing.

The roshei kollel discussed the tremendous hardships they suffer because of these problems, which are further exacerbated due to the fact that a kollel which does not receive funds from a government office for a long period can not shoulder the tremendous burden of granting stipends to avreichim. In order to cover its overall expenses, the rosh kollel must solicit contributions. The moment a Government office delays support, the roshei kollel are forced to go into debt in order to pay the avreichim on time.

The roshei kollel also complained that even after their institutions manage to meet the various demands of the Government offices and to provide them with the necessary documentation, it takes considerable time until the Government resumes support for the avreichim. As a result, the kollel does not receive funds for the months during which the support was stopped.

They also noted the Government offices' failure to grant pre- holiday stipends. While official offices are aware of the importance of granting such subsidies in advance to other groups and institutions, avreichim are deprived of this benefit. Because the kollelim are so far behind in their monthly payments due to bureaucratic difficulties, when erev yom tov nears the avreichim do not receive the extra stipends to which they are entitled.

The roshei kollel stressed the need for setting up a special committee to handle the affairs of institutions and kollelim that have encountered problems with Government offices. The committee will serve as a spokesman for Torah institutions and will expedite the handling of the overall affairs of the roshei kollel in Government offices.

At the end of the meeting, four roshei kollel were chosen to serve on the Roshei Kollel Committee. They hope that the Committee will be of benefit to all kollelim and will minimize their bureaucratic problems. It is hoped, too, that both sides -- Government offices and kollelim -- will benefit from an efficient solution of these problems.

The temporary telephone of the Committee is 02-5380931. Letters may be sent to Vaad Roshei Hakollelim, POB 5446, Jerusalem. The services are free of charge.

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