Zionist Yeshivot unions decry cancellation of daycare subsidies

A father studying to become a rabbi is no longer eligible, but a father studying for an academic degree of any kind is.

Y Rabinovitz ,

Hesder yeshiva (illustrative)
Hesder yeshiva (illustrative)
Beit She'an hesder yeshiva

The Union of Zionist Yeshivot and the Hesder Yeshivot Association have written a sharply worded letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, following the recent decision of Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman to deny daycare subsidies to families where the father is in full-time Torah study.

In their letter, sent on Thursday, Moshe Gutman, the director of the Union of Zionist Yeshivot, and Uri Pinsky, the head of the Hesder Yeshivot Association, stress that, “This draconian decision of Minister Liberman causes immense damage to the status quo, and is a display of defiance that expresses actual contempt toward the value of Torah study. It also causes great harm to entire communities who view Torah study as a central value to their lives.

“This step will deal an existential economic blow to the families of Torah students from the weakest strata of society,” they warn.

Letter from Union of Zionist Yeshivot and the Hesder Yeshivot Association

Gutman and Pinsky called on Prime Minister Bennett to keep his promises and not to permit the government to deal Torah students and their families such a heavy blow.

“We have heard the speeches you made,” they write, “along with speeches made by other senior figures in the government. We have heard the promises made to protect the unity of the people, and your personal promise to support the Torah world. Now we are appealing to you with a request that you cancel this evil directive and work to balance the various elements in government who have acted irresponsibly. We call upon you as Prime Minister of the State of Israel, asking you to implement responsible policies that respect all the various sectors of society, policies that respect and show commitment to our millennia-old tradition of valuing Torah study, policies that bring about unity between Israeli society and the Torah world.”

Their letter highlights the discrimination inherent in Liberman’s decision: “What this directive means is that those studying full-time in order to be certified as rabbis will be deprived of these subsidies – but someone learning in order to receive an academic degree of any kind remains eligible. This will cause hundreds of families from the Zionist yeshivot to sink under the poverty line. The decision shows absolute contempt for the value of Torah study and is an attempt to undermine it entirely – and we cannot consent to this. We call on the Prime Minister to impose coalition discipline and prevent this destructive decree from being implemented.”