The Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child convened on Tuesday morning to discuss the Finance Minister’s intention to cancel the subsidy paid for daycare to families in which the father is engaged in full-time Torah study.

MK Orit Strock (Religious Zionism) attacked the government’s plans, saying, “The Finance Ministry, the government, and the coalition want to empty out the batei medrash [study halls] on the backs of women and infants – this is just plain nastiness at work.” Addressing coalition MKs Nir Orbach and Michal Shir, she added, “You cannot lend your support to Antiochus-like or Sodom-like behavior.”

“This coalition is damaging the fabric of Jewish society and its Torah scholars,” said Shas MK Yinon Azoulay. “I tell you now that you will not succeed in breaking us; you will not succeed in harming Torah scholars, who are the soul of the Jewish people. Monetary factors will never break the world of Torah scholars, nor will people like Lapid or Liberman or Bennett succeed in harming the Torah world. We are the few against the many, and our cry is: ‘Whoever is for G-d, let him join us.’”

Also speaking was Shas MK Moshe Abutbul, who said: “The greatest wickedness would be to create a division between the religious and the haredi communities, by way of creating a framework in which women and children from the Religious-Zionist community receive a subsidy [and haredi families do not].”

Coalition head MK Idit Silman (Yamina) related the efforts she says she is making to create a framework that will enable the families of Torah scholars to continue receiving daycare subsidies.

“I am doing everything possible, with the advice of these precious women here,” she said, then turning to Strock and suggesting, “Let’s sit and talk this through together.”

“I do not wish to sit and discuss anything with you,” MK Strock responded.

Two weeks ago, MK Nir Orbach went out to a protest being held outside the Prime Minister’s Office, organized by a group of wives of Torah scholars. Orbach then stated that he wished to show his identification with their cause, adding that, “We do not want to harm the Torah world in any way – and this is why we are trying to deal with the Finance Minister and the Finance Ministry, as well as the government’s legal adviser on this issue, in order to prevent any damage being inflicted.”

Also present at the demonstration was MK Yaakov Asher (UTJ), who said, “They are trying to engage in ‘divide and conquer,’ but we will not let them. Bnei Brak’s daycare centers are now only 60 percent full, many centers have closed, and women who were barely earning minimum wage are being forced to leave their jobs. At this time of challenge, the community of Torah scholars must unite, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in order to prevent harm being done to the Torah world. We will not allow Liberman to break our spirits.”

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