Are the Chareidim Really the Ones Benefitting from Inequality?


chareidim1By Rafi G., Life in Israel

People here in Israel and especially the secular media make it sound like the chareidim have the highest level of quality of living and economic wealth in the country, and it is all through taking advantage of government funding.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the way the supplementary “Havtachat Hachnasa” is structured in the budget is discriminatory and illegal and must be canceled (beginning with the 2011 budget). Since then, people, articles, opinion pieces, and editorials are talking non-stop about how important this is. As if this measly little part of the budget is so important and everything in the country that has been going wrong has been because of that, and now everything will be okay/

I get that equality is important, but some proportion is in order.. The welfare payment was a measly welfare payment. Nobody was getting rich off it and almost nobody clamors for welfare payments unless they are absolutely desperate. This is not the big savior of Israeli society nor of creating equality. It is a measly welfare payment. It might have been necessary, under the banner of equality, to cancel or restructure, but let’s not make it out to more than what it actually is.


Beyond that, now that the rabidly anti-chareidi people are so happy that this Havtachat Hachnasa has been canceled and our society is now nearly perfect, we can move on to resolving the final remnants of inequality in society. Sure enough, the chareidim  are squeezing the rest of the country again with disproportionate budgets that they take advantage of and don’t allow anyone else to benefit from. And we have to resolve that inequality immediately.

Now being suggested is that the chareidim benefit by learning in kollel because they do not have to pay for their higher education – they even get paid a stipend for it – while college students have to pay for their higher education!

The shame! Kollel students are not paying the tuitions of college students. What inequality! How unfair. We must either force the kollelim to start charging people to learn, and then we’ll see how many of those chareidim would really be so inclined, or we should cancel the tuition charged in university and have the government provide all the funding.


Yes, that will finalize the equality in Israeli society – start charging tuition to kollel men, or cancel university tuition. Everybody, no matter what they are doing and no matter how different they are, should either have to pay for it, the same amount I assume, or nobody should have to pay for it.

In the meantime, the State refuses to recognize kollel and yeshiva study as higher education and recognize it in the form of granting a degree, akin to a BSC of Judaic Studies or something similar, while someone in college who studies ancient Chinese languages, or any other topic that has little or no practical use, is just as unqualified for any practical job yet he holds a recognized degree.

So you refuse to recognize his studies at a university level, but you want to compare him to university students and start charging similar tuition?

The kollelim are largely not funded by the government. Stipends are provided and some of the general funding is provided by the government, but the bulk of the kollel budget is made up by the rosh kollel, or someone else, traveling the world a few times a year and raising money to run his kollel. The university is funded far more by the government than a kollel is. Also, look at the universities and see their campuses and buildings. Then look at the mostly run down botei medrash in caravans in which kollelim learn and still tell me with a straight face that it is comparable to the university, and it is the chareidim who benefit form the inequality.

Read the annual comptroller reports, whether national or local cities, and you will see how the inequality is almost always against the chareidim. The chareidi education system is funded using numbers far lower per student than the general educational system. The money given for religious services (there is no separation of shul and state in Israel, and until there will be this will remain an issue) is a pittance compared to the money given to the arts and cultural activities.

And it is the chareidim who are benefiting form all this inequality? Give me a break.

I would recommend that the chareidi politicians get together some people who are good with numbers, along with some good lawyers, and file a suit in the Supreme Court to demand equality. Let the cat out of the bag. Take it to the public and show that it is almost always the chareidim that suffer from the losing side of unequal funding, and if the courts and public insist on equality, it works both ways.

Let’s keep it in proportion. People have been making this court decision out to be the salvation of equality in Israeli society. At the end of the day, all it is is a measly little welfare payment.

{Life in Israel/ Newscenter}


  1. I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with the premises of this article.

    Nobody said the yinga leit are living like kings. The objection is just that they have no right to other peoples’ tax money in this fashion.

    I remember many of the objections around 1948 regarding the the establishment of the State. The main objection was that this could not be a frum state because Moshiach had not yet come and we are still in golus. (Another concerned the use of loshon hakodesh as the common language for a secular state.)

    But the key is that Israel is a secular state, though it is no longer run by the British. As such, it uses its tax dollars the way the most citizens want it used or the way that the state feels will meet state goals. So museums, etc. are valid expenditures. Yeshivos, according to the secular state, should therefore be run through tzedokoh. If a kollel cannot exist there, then it cannot exist just like anywhere else.

    It is hypocritical to claim that this can only be a secular state and then be outraged that it doesn’t support b’nei Torah, IMO. And with all due respect, Roshei Yeshiva who disagree are nogai-ah b’dovor in this issue.

    My children (boys and girls) all learned in Eretz Yisroel, and some of my grandchildren do so now. So a stipend would surely help. But it is wrong to say that it is deserved or be outraged when it is cut off.