Photo Credit: Masa Israel website
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On Monday night, Channel 13’s Nadav Eyal reported that the Israeli government decided to allow the entry of about 20,000 yeshiva and seminary students who are not Israeli citizens, who will stay in preferential isolation conditions after their arrival. The government will also pay for coronavirus tests for all of them, and they will not be required to be tested before boarding the planes.

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In early July, The Jewish Press Online reported that Masa Israel Journey, a public-service organization founded by the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of Israel, together with The Jewish Agency for Israel, due to coronavirus-related budget cuts, was raising the age of eligibility to 22 for students from North America and the United Kingdom, effectively eliminating all funding for high school graduates planning to spend a year, two years or even three years studying in Israel (Elimination Of Masa Funding And Limited Student Visas Jeopardize Israel Study Plans For Countless Yeshiva And Seminary Hopefuls).

The following day, we reported that the global Torah community moved quickly, with the World Mizrachi Movement leading the charge, leveraging its relationships within the Jewish Agency to advocate for the funding to be restored. In response to the pressure, Masa agreed to restore 75% of the funding it would have normally allocated for students attending religious schools, with yeshivas and seminaries agreeing to pay the remaining amount (Orthodox Advocacy Leads To Masa Restoring Funding To Yeshivas And Seminaries).

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that an agreement had been finalized that would allow participants in yeshiva and seminary programs in Israel who come from the United States and the United Kingdom to continue receiving grants and scholarships from Masa (Grants, Scholarships to Students in Israeli Yeshivas, Seminary Programs Will Be Restored). According to Judy Maltz, reporting in Haaretz, “under the terms of the agreement, the Jewish Agency will provide 75% of the funding required to maintain existing benefits on condition that the institutions themselves pitch in 25%.”

In response the challenge, World Mizrachi launched an emergency fundraising campaign to help finance grants and scholarships for students in 50 yeshiva and seminary programs in Israel who had been supported by Masa, which includes non-Zionist, Haredi schools such as Bais Yaakov.

Nadav Eyal got into a war of words with some of his followers on Twitter, who resented his calling the arriving Jewish students “foreigners,” seeing as they are all entitled to Israeli citizenship, they are all young potential olim – the kind Israel needs the most. The Channel 13 reporter tweeted back: “So it is not possible to ask that their educational institutions pay for the tests? Does it make sense that in August they will bring in about 20,000 people from the country with the biggest coronavirus rampage in the world? And Under preferential isolation conditions?”

One Twitter user, Hetcho, replied: “I have a direct connection to one of the ulpanas, these are quality girls, who love the country, who instead of going to college come to Israel every year, bring in foreign currency, and above all, a significant part of them make aliyah! I wish the government knew enough to accept them with open arms and a willing soul.”

Which is why this may be the best news report you’ve read since February.

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