Yeshiva funding hits all-time high, as number of full-time seminary students rockets
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Yeshiva funding hits all-time high, as number of full-time seminary students rockets

Coalition agrees to pump extra NIS 50 million into yeshivas

Illustrative photo of ultra-Orthodox students studying at a yeshiva. Bnei Brak, September 11, 2016. (Flash90)
Illustrative photo of ultra-Orthodox students studying at a yeshiva. Bnei Brak, September 11, 2016. (Flash90)

Funding for yeshivas has reached an all-time high, following cabinet approval Sunday of a NIS 50 million ($13.5 million) increase in the yeshiva budget for 2017.

This is the third time that funding boosts for yeshivas have broken records since the current administration took office in March 2015. With the ultra-Orthodox parties returning to the governing coalition, cuts pushed through by former finance minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) were reversed.

The result is that the number of married yeshiva students studying full-time grew twice as fast (15 percent) as the Orthodox birthrate (8%) from 2015-2016, the Haaretz newspaper reported Monday, citing Education Ministry figures.

The proportion of Orthodox men and women in the work force remained stable during the same period, with 73% of Orthodox women in jobs compared with 51% of men, Central Bureau of Statistics figures showed.

Hundreds of thousands of Ultra Orthodox Jews gather on March 2, 2014, in Jerusalem to demonstrate against plans to make them undergo military service. (photo credit: AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)
Hundreds of thousands of ultra Orthodox Jews gather on March 2, 2014, in Jerusalem to demonstrate against plans to make them undergo military service. (AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)

Between 2012 and 2013, when ultra-Orthodox parties sat in the opposition and Lapid slashed funding, the number of yeshiva students dropped 8%.

The government has also restored income support for unemployed yeshiva students and has canceled requirements that Orthodox men prove they have tried to find work before they can get subsidized daycare for their children.

The issues have proved highly divisive in Israeli society and prompted calls of discrimination against secular society over the years.

An 87-clause coalition agreement signed two years ago by United Torah Judaism, one of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the government, also saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree to cancel a requirement that Orthodox schools teach the core curriculum in order to receive government funding and gut legislation to force Orthodox young men to enlist in the military.

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