Since the ultra-Orthodox parties joined the government two years ago, the number of full-time married yeshiva students has soared while an earlier rise in the ultra-Orthodox employment rate has ground to a halt, government data shows.
Education Ministry figures reveal that the number of married, full-time yeshiva students grew 15 percent over 2015-2016, eight percent the first year and seven percent in 2016. This number is double the growth rate of the ultra-Orthodox population for this period.
On Sunday, the cabinet approved an increase of 50 million shekels ($13.5 million) to the yeshiva budget for 2017, bringing it to an all-time high of 1.224 billion shekels. This is the third time yeshiva funding has broken records since the last Knesset election in 2015.
United Torah Judaism, one of the two ultra-Orthodox parties, says this growth was mandated by the government’s coalition agreement.
Uri Regev, director of the organization Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, lambasted Sunday’s decision to increase yeshiva funding yet again.
“This government unhesitatingly approves increased funding for yeshivas while cutting funding for firefighters and rescue services, demobilized soldiers, local governments and housing grants,” Regev said.