Feb 20, 2008

Shas achieves recovering budget cuts to yeshivas

If there is one benefit to Shas staying in the government, it is that they are able to squeeze all sorts of concessions out of the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. This is exactly the type of politics that Israel had worked hard the past 5 years to get rid of, led by Shinui under Ariel Sharon's government, where the religious parties hold the government by the cojones because of coalition problems and then would squeeze more and more money out of them in exchange for not leaving the coalition.

Many budgets for the religious public were cut as a result of Shinui's efforts. Some were superfluous and corrupt to begin with, so that was highly praised in the general public, but cuts were also made to all sorts of funding and programs that were vital and necessary to the religious community.

Shas has been using its influence, especially recently since its influence has increased, to recover some of those lost budgets and programs. Recently they recovered the Ministry of Religious Affairs. That was actually a worthy cut at the time because it was simply a bottomless pit used mostly for providing jobs for cronies and was rife with mismanagement and corruption. Shas got it back in a limited form, with responsibility only for some basic services, such as running the mikvas and City Rabbis (I do not remember the exact list), so it might have some cronyism nvolved, but it has the potential for good, such as ensuring payments to mikva ladies and religious workers (city rabbis, kashrus supervisers and the like) who have suffered in recent years with great delays in their salaries.

Overall, I would not say these things are good enough to make it worth staying in the Olmert government coalition which has its goal as dividing Jerusalem and throwing more jews out of their homes with the hope of peace guaranteed by an unreliable peace partner, but so be it. At least some good is coming out of their staying in the coalition.

The latest report was in today's newspaper (I do nto have a link - it was in the old fashioned type of newspaper - I have not yet seen a report of this online). Shas has extracted from Olmert the return of another budget that had been cut. This is one of the funding programs that Shinui had gotten cut. The government provides a budgetary payment, on a monthly basis, to all yeshivas for their students. This used to include all students, and I remember when I was in yeshiva we had to provide copies of our passports and (entry) visas for the yeshiva to apply for the funding.

Shinui had succeeded, at the time, in excluding foreign students from this budget allowance. This was a big hit for the yeshivas, as thousands of foreign yeshiva students study in yeshivas in Israel and the loss of that funding was a serious blow to the yeshivas.

Shas has extracted a promise from Olmert, and it has attained government approval, to renew this funding for foreign students as part of the budget. This will ease, a bit, the financial hardship the yeshivas have been suffering due to all the budget cuts, and more recently due to the decline of the value of the dollar.


  1. Thanks for posting a rare pro-shas post. They're hard to come by nowadays.

  2. I knew you would appreciate it... but I must say they are hard to come by for a reason...


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