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The Schmooze

10,000 Yeshiva Students Allegedly Cheat Ministry of Education

10,000 Yeshiva students have been playing hooky and bilking Israel’s Ministry of Education of NIS 4.5 million, according to a recent audit. The Ministry of Education shared with the Israeli business publication Globes that these students, who have not actually been showing up to classes, were receiving NIS 450 each per month in stipends.

The Ministry of Education has revoked these scholarships, but Knesset Finance Committee chairman, MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, a religious party, made sure that the money stayed in the Yeshiva system. Instead of the funds saved being directed elsewhere in the Israeli economy (like to specifically train the hooky players for gainful employment outside the study hall), they are now going to other Yeshiva students. Gafni felt that those Yeshiva bochers who were avoiding army service and getting a job, but who were actually showing up to the beit midrash, deserved to be more highly compensated.

Apparently, the audit succeeded in reducing the Yeshiva stipend rolls by 10%, but the total payout remains the same. Hiddush — for Religious Freedom and Equality in Israel, headed by Rabbi Uri Regev, claims that Yeshivas routinely put thousands of fictitious students on their rosters, and only voluntarily cut them when government audits are threatened. Regev has called for stricter audit guidelines and for the prosecution of Yeshiva heads who defraud the government.

So, what’s the takeaway from this? There is very little similar between studying in a Yeshiva and working a job out in the real world. But the one thing that is the same for both is that (at least when the government is watching) if you want to get paid, you’ve got to show up.

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