Israel High Court ruling: 10,000 non-working haredim to lose monthly stipend

Israel’s Supreme Court decision addresses only directly-paid subsidies & does not impact the new major law that reset the entire balance of ultra-Orthodox obligations regarding serving in the army etc.



An expanded seven justice panel of the High Court unanimously threw out as unconstitutional approximately NIS 1,000 per month in subsidies which the state has been paying directly to around 10,000 haredim for studying in yeshivot and not working.


Haredim – Illustrative photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post

Though Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis presided, justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote the court’s opinion, including an anecdote at the end stating that members of a synagogue he attends recently told a young haredi man asking for charity that he should “go find a job.”

The subsidies were part of a government policy to get around a previous 2011 court ruling invalidating the subsidies for haredim in yeshivot as unfair discrimination and favoritism.

The new policy, intended to deflect the claims that haredim should not get subsidies for studying that the rest of the population does not get, attempted to set an objective and non-discriminatory standard by giving the subsidy to haredim for four years to those who did not work, studied at least 35 hours per week and had three children.

Sunday’s High Court ruling said that the revised policy still failed to pass a fairness test and still favored haredim in a discriminatory fashion.

Rubinstein said that the new policy’s “stated purpose underlying the government’s decision was fitting,” trying to voluntarily push haredim toward working by setting standards which not all of them could meet for getting the subsidy – but that it fell short, including failing to prepare haredim for entering the workforce after the four year subsidy expired.

The High Court decision addresses only directly-paid subsidies and does not impact the new major law that reset the entire balance of haredi obligations regarding serving in the army and haredi institutions receiving subsidies which they can pass on to their students.

Rubinstein left an opening for the state to potentially take one more crack at a new policy for a select few extra talented haredi Torah scholars.

Hidush and other NGOs which had filed the petition said the court decision was virtually an indictment of “moral turpitude” against the government on the struck down subsidies policy.

It’s director Shahar Ilan said that the decision validated Hidush’s “claim that the so-called reform put forth by the prior coalition” was “not a reform at all,” and that its only purpose was to continue “to pay arbitrary and discriminatory payments” to haredim.

He expressed satisfaction that the policy had been sent “to the garbage bin of history.” UTJ party leader Moshe Gafni condemned the “disgraceful” ruling against “Torah scholars” as fitting for this “period which we are living in” when haredim are, as he saw it, under attack.

He explicitly rejected Rubinstein’s reading of traditional Jewish sources in favor of working and against perpetual Torah study and said he hoped “we will not get to a point where the air breathed by the haredi public will be thought of” as special treatment.


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