Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has sent a letter to the haredi MKs asking them to amend the draft law to include post-high school Torah institutions in which less than ten people are enrolled.
Currently, draft deferrals are only granted to those who participate in certain post-high school Torah institutions. One of the requirements before an institution is recognized and its students granted draft deferrals is there must be more than ten participants enrolled. Small yeshivas are sometimes founded in peripheral towns in order to see to it that there is Torah learning everywhere in Israel.
"Recently, a serious problem relating to dozens of post-high school Torah institutions came to my attention. This problem affects a number of Sephardic institutions in the periphery and smaller towns. These institutions are not able to grant their participants a 'yeshiva student' status, even though the participants learn Torah day and night in their institutions. This is a direct result of the recent changes to the draft law," Rabbi Yosef wrote.
He also said the current law requires at least ten participants who are under 24 years of age, and noted draft deferrals are only granted until age 24.
"According to those familiar with the topic, when the Tal Law was still in effect, there was a condition which required an institution to have at least ten participants who qualified for a draft deferral before the government would recognize any of its students. But at that time, the age until which deferrals would be granted was relatively high.
"Today, after so many changes have been made in the draft law, and deferrals are granted only up to the age of 24, and if there are not 10 participants under age 24, none of the participants will be recognized as 'yeshiva students,' many potential participants my decide not to continue their studies in a post-high school Torah institution. Instead, they may decide to leave the Torah world, G-d forbid," Rabbi Yosef concluded.