In response to the severe budget cuts suffered by Christian schools in Israel, an international letter campaign has been circulating urging both the Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett to find an amicable solution. Prior to 2008, these Christian schools received 75% of their funding from the Ministry of Education, whereas now they only receive 29%. “In a country that integrates Synagogue and State, and where religious education is 100% funded, Christian schools should be equal in receiving their fair share of state funding,” remarked David Nekrutman, Executive Director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation.
Three organizations – two Israeli and one American – have joined forces to spearhead the campaign to pressure the Israeli government for a written agreement that commits to full funding. The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), the Galilee Center for Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations (CSJCR) at Yezreel Valley College and Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF) are working behind the scenes with other Jewish and Christian organizations and leaders to encourage a positive outcome that guarantees fair and stable funding for Israel’s Christian schools and their students.
The Director of the Galilee Center for Studies in Jewish-Christian relations, Dr. Faydra Shapiro, notes that “We cannot stand idly standby and witness our Christian brothers and sisters face unequal treatment in a country that is rightly proud of its democratic values and commitment to religious freedom.”
Next month, the official celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate will be occurring in Rome. Part of the festivities will be honoring the unprecedented dialogue between Jews and Christians in the last half century, which has created long lasting friendships and brought millions of Christian visitors to Israel. “Particularly at this time, it is important that both Jews and Christians around the world make this issue of funding Christian education in Israel as a number one priority,” observed PTWF head Gary Krupp.
With over 7 million citizens in Israel, the Christian population stands at less than 2%. All three organizational heads believe that Jews around the world should help to support and empower the voice of a minority population in Israel in partnership with the diaspora Christian world.
For more information about the letter campaign, please visit efcs.cjcuc.com.