Bill Would Help Those Who Quit Haredi Lifestyle

A new bill advanced by Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On aims to provide financial aid to youths leaving the religious world, similar to that given to new immigrants upon their arrival in Israel.

Three years ago, Tel Aviv resident Eli Bitaan, 21, abandoned the prestigious Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and left the religious world. These days, he’s trying to fulfill his dream and get into Tel Aviv University’s Law School. Without a high-school matriculation certificate, and devoid of any financial backing from his family, Bitaan is, for the third time, trying to pass required preparatory classes while working toward his high-school diploma.

“I need to work and provide for myself throughout my studies,” Bitaan said, adding that the state should take responsibility for the fact that his Haredi education doesn’t match up to the level of study achieved by his counterparts in the state education system.

“It’s the state that deprived me of an education given to any other person my age. The state gave up on my education as a Haredi out of political motivations and never gave me an equal opportunity,” he said.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox youths who leave the religious world every year encounter economic hardship, a lack of formal education or trade and, following a sharp disconnect from family and community, find it hard to adapt to living a living and adapt to a secular way of life.

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