A protest of hundreds of employees of the Jerusalem Religious Council was called off at the last moment on Monday as a result of the intervention of Jerusalem Councilman Rav Yosef Deutsch, who brought the matter of the capital’s ailing religious council to the attention of Mayor Nir Barkat.
The director of mikve services, Rav Menachem Blumenthal spoke in his capacity as a workers’ representative, confirming he called off the protest to provide the mayor an opportunity to show he can intervene towards finding a solution.
During a meeting in the mayor’s office attended by Deputy Mayor Yitzchak Pindrus, Blumenthal, Deutsch and others, it was agreed the city will seek legal means towards advancing funds from the 2009 budget in an effort from preventing Jerusalem’s religious services from collapsing entirely.
Prior to the formal meeting, a smaller forum met in the mayor’s office, including those mentioned above in addition to Rav Kroizer, an advisor on chareidi issues to the mayor, as well as David Hadadi, who heads the city’s finance committee.
Jerusalem spokesman Gidi Schmerling explains the city has been forwarding the budgetary allocation to the religious council and the problem rests on the national level, explaining due to problems with the 2009 state budget and the general election, the national government hasn’t been releasing its share of the religious council budget.
Rav Blumenthal stated it is not that simple, adding employees will not accept a solution for their December 2008 salaries by tapping into the 2009 budget. He rejected any attempt to pay debts from 2008 using 2009’s budget, calling on City Hall to find alternative sources of funding to address the situation.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)