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Jun 28, 2010

possible changes coming to the yeshiva system?

A ramification of the Emannuel school situation, which seems to thankfully be finally resolved, is that an increasing number of people in the Haredi community are beginning to call for changing the system to not take any money from the State of Israel. The Satmar platform, in part at least, is becoming commonly suggested and is being considered for adoption.

I said this would happen - that attacking the Haredi community now in such force would not be beating them down but would cause them to become more extreme in their positions. It might start with not taking money for schools so w can run them how we want, but it will end up in all sorts of other areas where it will be less pleasant.

The latest of such calls are coming from Litvishe Rosh Yeshiva Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz. Rav Lefkowitz said that the time has come for the yeshivas to stop taking money from the government, so as to give the yeshivas complete independence. Rav Lefkowitz quoted a number of gedolim from previous generations who believed in this position of not taking money from governments so as not to later be required to submit to external interference in the methods of the yeshiva. Since the yeshivas continued existence is a phenomenon that is beyond nature, there is no reason to put our reliance in the government.

If the yeshivas will not be getting money from the government, will this force changes in the system? Will they be more discerning in who comes to learn in the yeshiva, as their resources are being spent on the students, they might only be willing to take this on for the more serious students? Or will it stay the same but just more reliant on fundraising? Will yeshivas decentralize, as the large yeshivas would have to massively fundraise, but more small yeshivas might make it easier for each to raise smaller amounts of money? Or perhaps the system will centralize more as people will be less inclined to open yeshivas and the large yeshivas will be where people donate their money rather than to small yeshivas..

Time will tell, and maybe this is just threats anyway and nobody is really planning on giving up the government funding.. What rosh yeshiva that goes out a few times a year for weeks and months running from door to door will willingly give up what has become a stable part of his budget, knowing that that will force him to go out collecting even more than what he already is?

12 comments:

  1. The Eidah can refuse to take money from the state because they are small and can survive with outside help from Satmar.
    The sheer numbers of yeshiva/kollel students in the mainstream charedi makes it that they cant afford the luxury unless you reduce the number of students.
    Quoting gedolim from previous generations is not relevant because the numbers were much smaller and they did not live in an affluent society.

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  2. My take: they will talk, whine and the vast mainstream will continue taking money from the state. They cannot afford otherwise. There is no way they can support the yeshiva system without the Israeli public working to pay for it.

    As Bohr said, quoting what was done in previous generations is totally irrelevant unless of course the proportion of the Haredim in the yeshivot goes down to the same proportion it was then. I can't see that happening.

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  3. See the American experience if you want the answer
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  4. Jpel - what do you mean by the American experience?
    In America the govt doesnt fund the yeshivas, but it is also coming from a different culture. The lack of govt funding might not be the only reason for the American yeshiva experience

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  5. Having some (limited) inside knowledge of yeshiva funding...ha, give me a break! Take a look at RBS as an example...every school is sitting in a freely received government building, they are not paying arnona on that property, not paying the water and sewer bill, not paying for the guard, and most of their salary costs are covered.

    Oh, they have to pay administration, supplies, etc. And if they don't have enough kids in the class they don't have enough money to pay the salary (or don't get coverage for that teacher).

    So, let's say every charedi school next year comes to the parents and says "sorry, we're not taking government money, the schar limud is tripled to cover the salaries, and another 2x to cover the building." Being that even at Israeli schar limud rates many of the parents are behind, not paying at all, paying with discounts, yep that's going to go over well.

    But wait, the big working sector of the charedi community will step up, right? Oh yeah, gaining the skills to get high paying jobs is inappropriate in the charedi community.

    So the US Jews will step up to cover it! Except with the current economy there's schools shutting down and/or merging to stay alive in the US. And even when the economy was at it's best they were already maxed at what they could provide to Israel.

    Actually this might be a GREAT thing. The community may be forced to rebalance the earners/learners mix for the next generation to allow society to provide the level of autonomy it would wish.

    As it is, no way, no chance, what a joke.

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  6. I'm not sure why this is concerning news or even realistic, as akiva points out. How on this God given earth could they possibly manage to fund schools without government funding? It's simply impossible, and they look ridiculous even suggesting it. It's just political posing. I'd love to see them cut the chord and learn what living in the real world means. The sooner the better.

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  7. It may not be the only reason, but the economic imperative is hard to ignore, I suspect the results will be along the lines suggested by Akiva.

    KT
    Joel Rich

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  8. It might start with not taking money for schools so we can run them how we want, but it will end up in all sorts of other areas where it will be less pleasant.

    Rafi what do you mean by other areas, and less pleasant? Less pleasant for us card-carrying internet charedim as we try to follow an ever-restrictive Daas Torah? Or can you envision a way in which non-participating charedim will make their non-participation less pleasant for general Israeli society?

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  9. I am leeaving it ambivalent because I am not sure, but this will just be the beginning. I was thinking along the lines of further separation from the State in other areas.

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  10. I wish we could have a more proactive hashkafa. For example why it isn't a priority to override Torah learning for greater societal needs (army, career) but we do participate in chessed within the greater society. Instead it's just issue by issue, and comes out looking self-serving.

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  11. A) I don't think this will become a widespread practice, as others have already said.

    B) While I disagree with the govt meddling in this case, it isn't a widespread problem. Meanwhile, more than any prominent family name you see on donation plaques all the time, the biggest supporter of yeshivos is the State of Israel. So I think there's an overall lack of hakaras hatov here.

    C) If it were to happen for real, that money which used to go to yeshivos will now be available for other govt programs, some of which be k'neged Torah. Wouldn't that be tantamount to yeshivos funding these initiatives?

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  12. I think that at the end of the day. The girls BY schools run by chinuch atzmai will go semi private like the Cheder style school and just take less money. like a mendelsons idea. or mendelsons may become a very large school. The parents are not going to allow the govenment to take over that much at all. It is pushing them to go more extreme. 100%

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