JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Cabinet approved a plan to limit the number of years that full-time yeshiva students can receive government support payments.
The same plan, approved Sunday by a vote of 14 to 8 with 3 abstentions, will double the amount of financial assistance available to needy university students.
Labor Party ministers opposed the plan; haredi Orthodox Shas lawmakers abstained.
Under the plan, full-time, married, haredi Orthodox yeshiva students under the age of 29 who do not work, do not own a car and have three children will receive a stipend of about $290 a year for four years, with a decrease in the fifth, or integration year, during which they will be able work part time. They are expected to find full-time work after the five years.
A smaller group of about 2,000 yeshiva students who intend to devote their lives to religious studies can receive the yearly allowance for an unlimited amount of time.
Scholarship funds for university students will double to about $28 million a year.
Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in June that the government cannot fund yeshiva students without making funds available to university students. The ruling was in response to a complaint filed by the National Student Union.
“We think these are good recommendations that will increase solidarity in our society and make it a more egalitarian one,” union head Itzik Shmuli said in a statement. “At the same time, we expect them to be legislated in the Knesset to ensure their future implementation.”