“Granting the subsidy to couples in which the father learns in yeshiva full time does an injury to all other couples who need to prove that they are working or studying in order to gain employment in the future. This discrimination is expressed in acceptance committees for child day care in which preference is given to the children of yeshiva students since the families of yeshiva students will always be poorer than families where both parents work."
High Court Orders Government To Explain Obvious Pro-Haredi Bias In State Child Care Subsidy Program
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
In response to a petition from the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Israel’s High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction today that compels the government to explain why it gives child care subsidies to families in which the male parent is a full time haredi yeshiva student, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The IRAC petition claims the legal criteria for receiving discounted child care from the state mandate that both parents in a family must be either employed in the workforce or be studying for a professional qualification which when earned would help them find work.
For years, the state gave this subsidy to haredi families in which the father chose not to work and instead chose to study full time in yeshiva, and it continued the practice of doling out this special haredi welfare until the previous government was forced by its then-coalition partner the Yesh Atid Party to change the criteria to mandate that both parents be employed or enrolled in a recognized professional education program. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s newest government repealed most of those changes shortly after taking office as part of the coalition deal Netanyahu made with haredi political parties.
Haredi yeshiva students often continue to study full time in yeshiva well into middle age and even beyond with no intention of gaining employment. Many are able to do this in part because of state subsidies – subsidies that, for the most part, university students, graduate students, artists and others do not qualify for because the subsidies were essentially tailor-made for the haredi community in order to buy the support of haredi political parties.
The newest version of the criteria use a formula that considers a family’s total income per head. Because a full time yeshiva student’s family will almost always have a much lower income even than a family with two parents who work at low wage jobs, families with a father who studies full time in yeshiva are likely to get the childcare subsidy while the family with two working parents is much less likely to qualify for it.
“Granting the subsidy to couples in which the father learns in yeshiva full time does an injury to all other couples who need to prove that they are working or studying in order to gain employment in the future. This discrimination is expressed in acceptance committees for child day care in which preference is given to the children of yeshiva students since the families of yeshiva students will always be poorer than families where both parents work,” Ricky Shapira-Rosenberg, an attorney with the IRAC said, noting the current structure of the childcare subsidy decreases the motivation of haredi men to work.