Thursday, December 08, 2011


Charedi Support

In Israel there is an ongoing argument regarding supporting “Torah studies”.  One version of this argument will be hitting the Israeli Supreme Court soon.  Commentator Eli Kazhdan put out this very important thought…

(Ynet) ….Once the social justice storms finally subside, the dictatorial regimes in many of the Arab countries disintegrate, and a solution is found for the doctors’ strike, the social agenda will inevitably revert to the haredi community. The ultra-Orthodox have always been a hot potato, of sorts.

…the Honorable Judge S. Jubran will soon adjudicate a petition to the High Court of Justice, regarding the question why a university student in Israel is not entitled to the same national insurance benefits awarded to a haredi man learning in kolel (advanced Jewish religious studies center, where a stipend of around $400 per month for a married man is provided for putting in 10 hours of daily Torah study).

Various studies show that the haredi population in Israel is about 600,000 people. The total cost of the national insurance benefits provided by the State for this community adds up to approximately NIS 120 million – certainly a considerable sum. The total cost of higher education for the upcoming two years is estimated at NIS 1.3 billion. Additionally, in 2011 the government awarded, justifiably, NIS 1.5 billion for scholarships, bonuses and financial aid. Any discussion should keep these facts in mind.

The problem is that attacking the haredim has turned into a competitive sport on the political and PR playing field, making it very difficult to talk numbers. Although the total cost of national insurance benefits for haredim is tenfold less than the costs of higher education, the debate is not one of numbers or of just distribution. The challenge in clarifying the distinction between academic education and religious studies is a cultural one…

Hmm, what will the country do if the court rules that indeed it’s not fair… that the charedi kollel man is only receiving 1/10th for an equivalent educational effort and therefore the kollel benefits should be increased 10x? 

It’s worth noting in the U.S. it is possible to get a B.A., M.A. and even Ph.D. in Talmudic Studies, meaning ‘accredited kollel’ with full higher educational support – yet in Israel Torah studies are considered non-educational.

This is purely a culture conflict.


  1. Akiva, tell me exactly what does this kollel education provide to further the advancement of society for good?

    Let me give you two examples of how this religious education stopped two individuals from being productive Israeli Jewish citizens. They are both 'religious'.

    The first is an individual who is in a kollel system of the Charedim who has the desire to be in a paramedic. Now not all of his teachers oppose this, but the rosh yeshiva certainly does. Why, there might God forbid be contact with a female. So they now treat him quite poorly in that he might correct his thinking and remain a good little brainless, helpless person.

    The second is one person who was in the Charedi educational system called Beit Yaakov or Beis Yaakov. She was a volunteer at a local Jerusalem hospital in a neo natal unit. She got kicked out because of this. Now she is trying to catch up educational wise in order for her to actually become a productive citizen by attending a school that offers such subjects that would allow her to become a medical professional.

    So, you tell me, this is a system of education that deserves or warrants more money. People want to learn religion, please go do it and get a job to pay for it, but not on my taxpayer shekel.

    By the behaviour of the Charedi community in midot, in business (wealth is not an indicator of being honest), in derech eretz, they system is a complete failure.

  2. The anti-Torah studying people quote how much scholarships the government gives out, but conveniently forget to ask how much the state is actually funding universities and tuition. The typical full-time student is paying 10 000NIS (a year) but apparently, the government pays each university another 20 000NIS per student to cover the actual costs that are not covered in tuition.

    And then we can also talk about why the government is subsidizing so many students who study social sciences only go on to becoming low level clerks and secretaries.


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