Ponevezh Yeshiva
Ponevezh YeshivaYaakov Naumi/Flash 90

Just prior to leaving office, former Education Minister Naftali Bennett (New Right) signed an ordinance approving a life insurance plan for married yeshiva students.

The ordinance, pushed forward by Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen, was fiercely opposed by UTJ MK Moshe Gafni, who also heads the Knesset's Finance Committee.

Under the new initiative, a sum of 500,000 NIS ($138,390) will be paid to the widow and orphans of married yeshiva students, over a period of fifteen years.

"Every married yeshiva student will pay a minimal sum of 20-30 NIS ($5.54-8.30) each month, and if it becomes necessary, his widow and children will receive a monthly stipend of 5,000 NIS ($1,384) each month for a period of 15 years," Cohen explained when first pushing the plan forward. He noted that he had the backing of haredi rabbis.

Gafni, for his part, had claimed the insurance harms the yeshivas' budgets.

"Today they're taking part of the budget for important insurance, tomorrow they'll take part of the yeshivas' budget for a hundred other issues. We cannot allow the yeshivas' budget to be harmed, and any initiative, no matter how important, needs to come from a separate additional budget, without harming the yeshivas' budgets," he said then.

"It saddens me that the interference of politicians and various other interested parties have joined together to block this initiative, hopefully without success," Cohen snapped back. "In the past eight years, dozens of widows and orphans have been left with no financial support, but they would definitely have been included in this plan."

"Someone who wants to join will join, if he doesn't want, he won't. Claims that this plan harms the yeshivas' budget are baseless and are the result of various political interests."