Israeli Supreme Court rules yeshiva student stipends illegal

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TEL AVIV (JTA) — The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the state to stop providing monthly living stipends to haredi Orthodox yeshiva students.

The stipends of approximately $1100, distributed over a period of four years and intended to encourage integration into Israel’s workforce, were not having the desired effect, the court ruled Sunday in a unanimous opinion. Instead, the court said that the funding amounted to discrimination against university students, who do not receive such stipends.

The ruling, which will take effect in January 2015, came as a response to a suit filed by the National Union of Israeli Students and a range of religious pluralism groups. The suit was based on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that state scholarships to yeshiva students amounted to preferential treatment, according to reports.

The state had also increased financial aid to university students in the intervening four years, but the court said that the measure had not resolved the inequality between yeshiva and university students.

“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,” Judge Elyakim Rubinstein wrote in the unanimous opinion, according to the Times of Israel.

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Source: JTA

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