Regev Responds

One step closer to equality

Supreme Court strikes down discriminatory stipends for yeshiva students

The petition initiated by Hiddush and partnering organizations demonstrated the failure of Israel's previous government coalition.

Hebron Yeshiva. 20.06.2010. Photo: Flash 90 Hebron Yeshiva. 20.06.2010. Photo: Flash 90

Israel's Supreme Court recently heard and accepted a petition to stop providing stipends of over NIS 1,000 per month to more than 10,000 yeshiva students. The petition, which was initiated by Hiddush and used our research, was submitted by a group of organizations and represented in court by the Israel Religious Action Center's lawyers. The Court ordered the State to stop making these payments because they discriminate against university students and non-Orthodox seminarians. The Court also recognized that the stipends did not really advance their declared objective of increasing yeshiva students' participation in the workforce.

According to the ruling, the stipends will be discontinued in the beginning of 2015. One of the arguments in favor of disbanding the stipends was based on the fact that outside of Israel, many ultra-Orthodox men simultaneously pursue religious studies in addition to support themselves and their families financially by working.

This Supreme Court ruling was a harsh criticism and mark of disgrace for the previous government coalition.

The Court’s decision has been covered by the broad spectrum of Israeli media. The ultra-Orthodox media's coverage of this case, however, is indicative of Hiddush's status in the ultra-Orthodox world as a leading force in undoing years of preferential political and financial treatment towards Orthodox yeshiva students. The widely-read ultra-Orthodox news site, Kikar Hashabbat, quoted Hiddush Vice President Shahar Ilan as describing this Supreme Court ruling as a harsh criticism and mark of disgrace for the previous government coalition.

The Supreme Court has confirmed our claim that the previous government's decision to allocate funds to yeshiva students supposedly as a means to encourage employment following their studies was but a mere ploy with the aim of continuing to distribute these scandalous and discriminatory stipends, which the court has already ruled against in the past.

We are proud to have played a critical role in the Supreme Court's reversal of this political deal made at the public’s expense to buy the votes of the Haredi MKs. We will continue to update our followers on the further outcomes from this case and our work towards greater equality for all Israelis.

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