The budget of Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs increased by 100 million shekels

August 9, 2021 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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An additional 100 million Shekels (A$42 million) have been allocated to the budget for Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs.

A Belz community wedding Photo: Adi Gefen/TPS

The funds will be used to carry out a number of reforms being implemented by the Ministry.

The ministry’s budget will include additional standards for the courts, a budget for the advancement of women in religious services, standards for rabbis in the settlements and the Ethiopian community, as well as a budget for the implementation of the program to improve the kashrut system.

Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana stated, “The budget reflects the importance and necessity of religious services, strengthens the status of the Chief Rabbinate, and will lead to improved religious services for Israeli citizens.”

The Ministry stated that Minister Kahana’s kashrut “revolution” is moving to a practical stage and a new division in charge of kashrut at the Chief Rabbinate will be established in the coming year. The Minister is pushing for kashrut supervision in Israel to be handled by independent private agencies, in accordance with regulations to be set by the ministry. Currently, such certifications are handled directly by the ministry.

As part of the push led by the Minister for the Advancement of Women in the government organizations of religious services, NIS 2.5 million (A$1m) will be allocated to do so. Of this, NIS 1.5 million will go to supporting Torah study institutions for women and another million in 2022 will be applied for halakhic (Jewish law) advisors.

A review of the budget summary also shows that priority has been given to updating computing and technology in religious services. The rabbinical courts’ allotment will be increased by NIS 5 million (A$2.1 million) for this purpose. This will make it easier for people who come to the rabbinical courts to be serviced. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Ministry of Religious Affairs will also receive a sum of NIS 8.8 million (A$3.7 million) for the “Song of the Sea” project and the promotion of the ministry’s computer and cyber system.

The budget for the National Center for Holy Places and the Rashbi Tomb will increase by NIS 25 million (A$10.5 million). Located in Merom, the Rashbi tomb is where a stampede caused dozens of deaths this past May. Thousands of Israelis flock there every year on the holiday of Lag Ba’omer.

The tragic deaths were the result of poor infrastructure at the site and too many people trying to squeeze through a small ad hoc bridge at the same time.

The money will go to the needed renovations at that site. Funds will also go to renovations at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which will receive a budget of NIS 2.7 million.

Burials in Israel are currently conducted under the charge of the Religious Affairs Ministry. For Jews, they are conducted under orthodox Jewish laws. This is a contentious issue in Israel.

Another NIS 46 million (A$28.1 million) has been allotted to the matter of cemeteries and burial in the State of Israel. A team will be formed to formulate solutions to the problems arising from the subject of burial.

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