High Court Demands State Clarify Why Yeshiva Students Get Stipends Not Given to University Students

Petitioners believe new agreement approved by government discriminates against university in favor of yeshiva students.

The High Court on Wednesday demanded that the state specify why it has not canceled an agreement that provides supplementary income to yeshiva students.

The deal, which was approved by the government in 2010, was put in place instead of a former agreement which was cancelled earlier that year by the High Court, who had argued that the deal discriminated against other groups.

Yeshiva students
Nir Kafri

The deal allows yeshiva students to continue receiving guaranteed minimal income pensions in addition to the grants they receive for their studies – a right denied from regular students.

In 2010, the High Court upheld a petition accusing the government of discrimination in favor of religious students, ruling that the supplementary income provided to yeshiva students is illegal.

Currently, only a small portion – some 8,800 - of yeshiva students still receive supplementary income.

Shortly after the ruling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the religious Shas party that he will secure a new agreement guaranteeing these rights for yeshiva students.

And in December of 2010, a proposal was approved by the cabinet that the government will provide a total of NIS 127 million a year in stipends to married yeshiva students, amounting to NIS 1,040 a month per student for four years. In the fifth year, the amount will be reduced to prepare the student for entry into the labor market.

The proposal to cut stipends to yeshiva students followed a ruling by the High Court of Justice that the practice violates the principle of equality, since it does not apply to university students.