Knesset approved on Monday a one-time grant for ultra-Orthodox youngsters in alternative voluntary service (sherut leumi) who have been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus crisis while snubbing their coevals from other sectors and IDF soldiers.
According to the motion passed by Knesset's Special Committee on Welfare and Labor Affairs, some 1,000 Haredim in sherut leumi who have lost their source of income or placed on unpaid leave due to COVID-19 are expected to receive an extraordinary grant of up to NIS 13,200 ($4000) as many of them have families and are not eligible for unemployment benefits due to their volunteer status.
IDF soldiers and other sherut leumi volunteers, including over 5,000 volunteers from the Arab sector, are not expected to receive a similar stipend.
Sherut leumi is an alternative voluntary national service in Israel for those that cannot or do not wish to serve in the Israel Defense Forces which is mandatory for all Israelis over the age of 18.
Among those who are eligible for the stipend are volunteers who have lost at least 25% of their income and their family's monthly per capita income does not exceed NIS 4,681 ($1,400) including the monthly fees paid to the volunteer in the framework of their service.
The size of the grant will be determined according to the number of months the volunteer has worked before or during the crisis, starting in December 2019, in addition to their marital status.
A married volunteer with children who has worked for two or three months before losing their job will receive a NIS 6,000 grant, a married volunteer with children who has worked for four to five months will receive NIS 9,900 and a married volunteer with children who has worked for more than six months will receive NIS 13,200.
Committee chairman Likud MK Haim Katz said that the committee is still fighting to secure funds for similar stipends for soldiers.
"We've been promoting and following the issue for a long time now, we've demanded grants for ultra-Orthodox volunteers and soldiers with work permits who have been pulling through for months without income or government assistance," Katz said. "We have decided today to not stall one for the other, but we'll keep fighting for a solution for the soldiers."