Israel's High Court of Justice has ruled that the state should no longer grant stipends and scholarships solely to yeshiva students. The ruling is a victory against discrimination and furthers the goal of increased social and economic integration of the Haredi community into Israeli society.
The verdict followed a January 2011 petition by a group of organizations, including NIF grantees Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Hiddush, Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah, Be Free Israel, and the Conservative Movement.
In the ruling, Judge Elyakim Rubinstein said: "The claim that funding yeshiva students over a long period of time - four years, without obligating them to acquire any professional training or skill set during this time - encourages them to enter the workforce at the end of said period, is extremely problematic." The ruling also noted that, outside of Israel, most ultra-Orthodox men work for a living.
The ruling was based on a June 2010 verdict in which the Supreme Court ruled that state scholarships granted to yeshiva students (more than NIS 4,000 a month) discriminated against students at Israel's secular universities, who were not eligible to receive government benefits during their studies.
In response to the ruling, Hiddush director Rabbi Uri Regev said: "The High Court has confirmed our claim that the so-called reform that the previous government enacted in the funds allocated to yeshiva students was not a reform at all, but a mere ploy with the aim of continuing to dish out the scandalous and discriminatory stipend. Woe be to the state whose government deceives its citizens. We are proud to have played a critical role in the Supreme Court's reversal of this political deal made at the public's expense to buy the votes of the Haredi MKs."
The verdict is expected to take effect in January 2015.