The Jerusalem Municipality has approved funding for the Reform Movement's Hebrew Union College and other non-Orthodox institutions, according to a report on Army Radio Tuesday. It is not completely clear whether UTJ and Shas representatives were fully aware that they were approving this funding when they voted upon it.
The radio station quotes Councilman Hanan Rubin of the Hitorerut faction, who serves as chairman of the Allocations Committee, as saying that this is the first time that the Jerusalem Municipality has officially supported funding for non-Orthodox institutions.
He welcomed the vote as a product of cooperation between different Jewish streams. “I had a complex talk with the haredi representatives,” he said. “I told them that there is a saying – 'the Torah has 70 faces' – and that it is a Jewish saying. They understood and internalized the fact that Jerusalem is a multifaceted city and that the arena of Jewish renewal in the city should be supported. I greatly appreciate their courage.”
Rubin added that the haredi factions had a vested interest in approving the allocations package since it included funding for hareidi institutions as well.
Councilman Haim Epstein, of the Bnei Torah faction, lashed out at the decision and hinted the haredi representatives did not know what they were approving. “It's a shame and a disgrace that haredi representatives, men from United Torah Judaism [UTJ] and Shas, sit at such a session and do not read the items [they are voting on],” he accused. “It's a shame and a disgrace that they give money to the institutes that are the only ones that these parties fight for all the time.”
The Chairman of the UTJ Faction in the Jerusalem Municipality, Eliezer Hochberger, said in response that he is "unfamiliar with the matter."