High Court: End Gender Bias in Grants for Yeshiva Students

Israel’s High Court of Justice has ordered the Ministry of Religious Affairs to take steps to eliminate gender discrimination in granting stipends to yeshiva students.

Sunday’s ruling came in response to a petition by Nishmat, a women’s studies center in Jerusalem, which said the ministry allots female yeshiva students living in dormitories $45 per month, while granting $125 to male yeshiva students.

The petition said male students who are married and do not live in dormitories receive about $163 monthly, while married women students receive just $40.

Nishmat also pointed out that women students are funded until the age of 30, while male students are eligible to receive a stipend until the age of 65.

The ministry had argued that men who defer their army service in order to study are prohibited from working, and therefore need a larger stipend than women, who are permitted to work and study. It also said that because men, and not women, are obligated by Jewish law to study Torah, preference must be given to male students.

Finding the ministry’s funding procedures discriminatory, the judges ordered it to revise and present new criteria to the court within two months.

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