Hike funding

Israel’s new government set to increase funding for yeshivas by 100%

The new government is expected to increase funding for yeshivas and their students in Israel to 100%, which could potentially lead to widespread public criticism.

The increased funding was reportedly agreed in negotiations between ultra-Orthodox parties and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is trying to form a new coalition.

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בנימין נתניהו, ישיבה תלמידי ישיבות חרדים אברכים

Yeshiva Haredi, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu

(Photo: Amit Shabi, Shaul Golan)

Until now, Israel has subsidized married and single Haredi yeshiva students, using a fixed amount from the state budget without taking into account the total number of these students, which has resulted in increased funding as the population continues to grow.

Now, as part of negotiations with Netanyahu, the ultra-Orthodox party leaders are asking for a flat fee of NIS 730 for young Haredi yeshiva students and NIS 1,314 for adults.

An estimate by Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism of the total number of ultra-Orthodox and religious students in the haredi population suggests the new annual funding will be 2.5 billion shekels, twice the amount current.

A source involved in the coalition talks said the budget would likely increase over the years due to the rapid population growth rate of ultra-Orthodox communities. “It will reach NIS 3 billion very quickly,” he said.

Funding for single yeshiva students who still live with their parents will not be transferred directly to them, but will instead be used for the operation of other ultra-Orthodox bodies. Funding for married students will be given to them in the form of a stipend on the condition that they study Torah as a full-time job.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman criticized the decision to double funding, saying: “The priorities are reversed. I have increased the income of IDF soldiers by 50% as Minister of Finance, while the new government will double the income of yeshiva students. We will work for those serving in the IDF, working and paying opposition taxes.

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also protested the decision. “The program to increase funding for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students is an ethical and economic misstep, which will harm the Bold youth and the future of Israel.

“The increased funding will encourage more young Haredi people not to enter the workforce or take up a profession because it is easier to stay in their yeshiva.”

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ישיבת הממשלה בנושא אישור ההסכם הימי עם לבנון

ישיבת הממשלה בנושא אישור ההסכם הימי עם לבנון

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

(Photo: Yoav Dudkevich)

“Throughout the years I have worked to increase employment in the ultra-Orthodox community, and I was the first to build a real plan which we adopted under my government.”

Ephraim, a resident of Jerusalem, justified the upcoming dramatic increase in funding. “I understand that reading the headlines and reading a 100% increase – that sounds bad, but it’s due to population growth, nothing more. We students won’t get a raise.”

He also said, “At the end of the day, I will have to live modestly on NIS 2,000-2,500 a month, which is a ridiculous sum.”

There are also members of the ultra-Orthodox community who fear the increased budget will hurt yeshiva students. “Basically, the increase in the budget is justified, especially after the former government, which gave tens of billions to the Arab community,” said a haredi activist.

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אביגדור ליברמן הגיע לדיון ראשון בקובלנה הפלילית שהגיש נגד יוסי כמיסה

אביגדור ליברמן הגיע לדיון ראשון בקובלנה הפלילית שהגיש נגד יוסי כמיסה

Avigdor Liberman, Minister of Finance

(Photo: Raanan Ben-Tzour)

“But it could also lead to criticism in the future,” he added. “You have to admit that sometimes the appetite of ultra-Orthodox party leaders is much bigger than their minds.”