Orthodox schools said to receive millions to compensate for previous budget cuts
Education Ministry says NIS 12 million in retroactive funding earmarked for Haredi and Religious Zionist institutions that were fiscally affected by Bennett-Lapid government’s cuts
The government will provide NIS 12 million ($3.2 million) to Haredi and Religious Zionist schools to compensate for a drop in funding that occurred under the previous government, the Haaretz daily reported Tuesday.
According to the Education Ministry, only religious schools experiencing financial distress as a result of the budget cuts, which came under the government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, will receive the retroactive payments, the report said.
The budget for religious schools defined as advancing “Torah and Jewish culture” has increased in recent years, reaching a peak of NIS 70 million ($19.1 million) in 2020. In 2022, under the previous government, that sum fell to NIS 24 million ($6.5 million).
The Education Ministry told Haaretz that the retroactive funding was aimed at assisting those institutions that continued to serve their communities despite the drop in funding.
Jotam Brom, CEO of Panim, an umbrella organization representing pluralist Judaism in Israel, criticized the move, saying that Orthodox institutions already receive disproportionate funding.
“As if that weren’t enough, now [the government] is retroactively paying for activities years after the fact,” Brom told Haaretz. “Instead of finding tricks and loopholes to move funding, the government should sort itself out and fund Jewish culture for all the streams of Judaism in an equal, professional and impartial manner.”
The current government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is the most right-wing and religious in Israeli history.
In its budget published in February, which is yet to be approved by the Knesset, the government allocated an additional NIS 2.5 billion ($684 million) to the Haredi community’s separate educational systems, an increase of 40 percent.
The increase was reportedly not enough for the United Torah Judaism party, which was said to be fuming over the budget approved by the Finance Ministry.