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Religious Discrimination in Haifa? Charedim Limited to Same Portion of Budget As Smaller Groups

The Cultural Department of Haifa’s City Hall is attempting to promote cultural activities across all sections of the city’s populace. However, based on evidence unearthed in a recent report, they seem to be failing to do so in an equal fashion. In a city that is comprised of large groupings of secular, religious, and ultra-orthodox Jews as well as various segments of the Muslim religious spectrum, it is incredibly difficult to make sure that everyone is happy.

According to a report conducted by Kikar Shabbat news service, the city has appropriated a disproportionate amount of money to other factions for cultural events, and far less to the Charedi community, per capita.

Charedi sources in the city claim that while the budget for religious cultural activities has gone up in recent years, it is still a far cry from where it should be, on equal footing with other population groups. The total budget allocated for religious cultural activities in the city is just over 2 million shekel, with close to 400,000 going to paying for permanent salaries. The rest is divided up evenly between the Religious Zionist events and the Charedi events. However, the population of these two groupings is not similar in any way with the Charedim having a far greater number of residents in the city than their Religious Zionist counterparts.

Although an exact census wasn’t available to authors of the article, judging by political representation, the Charedi community outnumbers the Religious Zionist community by a factor of almost 4 to 1. What makes the matter worse, while the Religious Zionist community often enjoys the social and cultural programs of the general community as well as their own, the same cannot be said for the Charedi community, who is restricted by their religious sensitivities and mores to their own events.

Shas city councilman and proprietor of the religious cultural attache from the city Aharon Cohen was livid with the 50% split of the remaining budget for religious programming.So much so that he demanded a special meeting of the city council, a request that was granted by Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav.

At the meeting, Yahav answered COhen’s critiques and said: “Since there is a surplus left over in this attache and budgetary allocation from previous years, I see no reason to increase the budget allocated this year to this attache if it won’t be used. If we see a budgetary plan that is accepted by the city council for an increase in activities, we will then increase the funding in tandem with the plan.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

One Response

  1. The first problem I have is that it does not explain just what is meant by “cultural activities”. What is the relationship between “religion” and “cultural activities”? And I have to wonder what is the actual purpose of the city promoting “cultural activities”? Could it be that the city expects these “cultural activities” to draw income into the city by attracting visitors/tourists who spend money?

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