Panicked haredi yeshiva heads met in an unscheduled emergency session in response to a High Court of Justice ruling temporarily barring the government from paying yeshiva student’s stipends and other related welfare benefits.
Haredi Rabbis Panic Over High Court Ruling Cutting Off Yeshiva Funding
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Panicked haredi yeshiva heads reportedly met in an unscheduled emergency session in response to a High Court of Justice ruling temporarily barring the government from paying yeshiva student’s stipends and other related welfare benefits.
The ruling was issued in response to a petition filed jointly with the court by Hiddush, a religious freedom and equality advocacy organization, and other similar groups.
The court gave the government 45 days to explain why it was still funding the yeshiva students, who are all classified as illegal draft evaders since a law ruled illegal by the High Court granting them exemption from the military draft lapsed in August.
The yeshiva deans and administrators reportedly fear that their students will reach the point of not having enough money to buy basic food and other necessities, and they also fear that the yeshivas will close due to lack of funding, noting that the global financial meltdown has made fundraising difficult, as well.
The rabbis decided to work feverishly to get as many people as possible to vote for the Ashkenazi haredi political party United Torah Judaism’s Knesset list in Tuesday’s national elections, in the hope that UTJ will be able to broker its participation in the next ruling coalition in exchange for a reinstatement of funding through a new law that would also grant haredi yeshiva students exemption from the military draft, or by the government evading the High Court’s ruling.
Until the law granting them exeptions was ruled illegal by the High Court, haredim could – and often did – study full time in yeshivas until they reached the age of retirement, receiving a government stipend and welfare benefits – the combined value of which averages $14,400 per year for a 28-year-old married yeshiva students with three to four children, according to a calculations done by Hiddush – the entire time.