For the second day in a row, the State was in court defending arrangements that were enacted for the hareidi community. On Monday, the State defended an arrangement that the IDF has decided to implement to gradually impose the draft on yeshiva students. And on Tuesday, the State was in court again, defending a grant program for hareidi yeshiva students, that provides them with a stipend for four years.
At issue is a program whereby yeshiva students up to the age of 29 whose wives do not work and who have three children receive NIS 1,040 a month for four years. During the fifth year, they receive 75% of that amount, and are expected to start begin integrating into the workforce. The stipend ends after the fifth year.
The program was instituted in 2010 to replace a previous stipend program that the High Court declared illegal, claiming it discriminated against other students who were not studying in hareidi yeshivas. The Court made the decision after a group of secular, student, and reform organizations presented a petition, claiming that the stipends were illegal. The current program limits the amount of time the students can receive the stipend, and is designed, the State said, to encourage hareidi students to prepare for the workplace.
The same groups filed a second petition after the State instituted the current program, claiming that no substantial changes had been made to the program at all, and it was this second petition that the Court heard Tuesday.
And the Court was not impressed. Speaking for two other judges who heard the petition, Court Vice-President Miriam Naor said she did not understand why any money was being paid to the students at all, if the idea was to encourage them to go to work. “How does giving a student money help him integrate into the job market?” she asked. “It makes more sense that he will go to work if you do not give him money.”
The Court issued an injunction against further allocations until it could explain the differences between the current payment program and the one it replaced.