Sunday, July 31, 2016

Israel’s Support for Eida Schools

Eida head, Rav Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss (YWN)
People who know me, know of my antipathy for the views of the Satmar Rebbe  with respect to his antipathy for the State of Israel – the embodiment of Zionism.  He was so opposed to it, that in a written statement published in his Sefer, Shu’t Divrei Yoel, he compared the spiritual leader of Religious Zionism, Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, to the Hitler of ancient times… calling him an Ish Tzar V’Oyev!

The Satmar Rebbe’s spiritual heirs in this respect go well beyond the borders of the Satmar community itself. Neturei Karta (who claims the Satmar Rebbe as their guide on this issue) has actually joined Israel’s enemies - embracing Islamic leaders that have called for Israel’s annihilation! That current leaders of Satmar disavow Neturei Karta, does not diminish the fact that they use him to justify their behavior!

The Eida HaCharedis while not as extreme as Neturei Karta, nonetheless subscribes to the Satmar Rebbe’s view of Israel. As such they do not take any money from the government for their any of their institutions, including their schools.

Which is to their credit. It is consistent with their views about the illegitimacy of Israel. To take money from a government that one condemns would be the height of hypocrisy. Whatever one says about them, you cannot call them hypocrites. At least as far as taking government money is concerned.

This is unlike other Charedi leaders whose criticism of Zionism and the nation founded on it - has been just as harsh. They have referred to the Zionist founders as Reshaim - evil and Godless atheists who are out to destroy all vestiges of the Torah! They do not consider the current leadership much better. And yet they go to great lengths to get as much money out of them for their institutions as they can. Including serving in the Keneset and joining the ruling coalition. One Charedi member is actually a cabinet minister!

That said, Charedim in Israel are a mixed bag. Some leaders have actually expressed appreciation what the state does for them. Both for the IDF and for the financial assistance they have received.  Others have nothing but hatred in their hearts and resent anyone – even Charedi leaders – that have a good word to say about them.

Be that as it may, one can certainly admire that segment of Charedim that refuse to take any money from the government based on principle. Especialy when there is so little money generated in those communities of for the needs of their schools. They have the same expenses as any other school. Teachers and administrators need to be paid a living wage. Purchasing and maintaining buildings that house these institutions cost money.

Obviously they get money from outside their community. Fortunately for them, there are a few very wealthy philanthropists that share their views and want to see those views perpetuated. So they help support their schools.

However their exponential growth certainly outpaces their resources. This is already true. How will their schools be funded? Well it seems they found a way. They seem to have abandoned their principled practice of not taking money from the government. From YWN
The Chachmas Lev school for girls was established seventeen years ago after parents pulled their girls out of Bnos Rochel, learning the latter was accepting state funds. There is now a storm in the Eida community after it was learned Chachmas Lev has also accepting state funds all these years from the ‘Treif Zionist government’. 
To be fair, this was not an Eida change of heart. This was a couple of schools doing so on their own… going rogue. As such they are being investigated by the Eida, whose leadership has asked to meet with the school’s principle who claims he did not know about it. So in theory they are maintaining their principles if not in practice by all of their schools.

It is obvious that the burden of keeping their schools open is becoming increasingly more difficult. So desperate are they to stay afloat that some of their schools are willing to sacrifice their principles to do it.

How this will play out remains to be seen. Will the immovable object (hatred of Zionism) be moved by the irresistible force (the rapidly increasing population generating an increasing need for money – they do not have)?

I know what the Satmar Rebbe would have said. On the other hand reality may hit them in the face (…or more correctly, in the pocket book) and they may have to make a choice between ideals and their very existence. We’ll see.

But what I think it does show is the willingness of the Israeli government to help support schools that preach their very destruction! They know what these schools preach and teach their students. And they still gave them funding. Which completely undermines the narrative of the right that accuses Zionism of trying to destroy Torah. If the Zionist government truly wishes to destroy Torah, giving money to Eida Schools is a funny way of doing it.