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A Global Problem with Particular Needs
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) between 20-50% of all women will be subject to domestic violence in some form during their lives.
In Israel, there are 14 women’s shelters to deal with this problem. However, Orthodox women in abusive relationships often do not take advantage of social services provided for them by the state. They fear the stigma associated generally with welfare services in the Orthodox community. They also have special religious needs, and more children than the average battered woman. In spite of the challenges, the number of religious women seeking help is on the rise. The number of religious women who called domestic abuse hotlines nearly tripled from 477 in 2004 to 1,402 in 2007.
Urban Poverty, Kids in Crisis
Kids in Crisis
On the map, Tel Aviv and Jaffa are close neighbors. However, often their realities couldn’t be farther apart. The modernity, wealth and beauty of Tel Aviv make a stark contrast to Jaffa’s poverty and urban blight. Those hardest hit by the negative conditions are Jaffa’s children.
Jaffa has the largest concentration of poor families in Israel. Over 2,000 of Jaffa’s kids don’t eat a hot meal every day. Child abuse rates are 8 times the national average. Faced with this reality, many of Jaffa’s children succumb to the cycle of poverty and destitution that surrounds them.
Hungry Families, Extra Food
Hunger in Israel
Recent studies have shown that over 2000 families in Israel suffer from nutritional insecurity, with thousands of children across Israel reported going to bed hungry at night.
At the same time, thousands of pounds of uneaten food are sent to the dumpster every week. Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, corporate events, bakeries, grocery stores, and more, often order or produce more food than they can consume or sell. This excess food most often ends up as waste.
A Rising Income Gap
Israel leads the developed world in the gap between rich and poor. The income gap between the rich and poor in Israel is twice as large as it is in the United States. Nearly 28% of Israelis live in poverty and almost 36% of all Israeli children are poor. These at-risk Israelis struggle daily for basic social and economic survival. To make matters worse, over the past decade the government instituted drastic cuts in the social services that used to support those in poverty.
Israel is small, and so are its apartments. Add a disabled child in to the situation, and suddenly the situation can be impossible. Many parents are forced to institutionalize their disabled child. This is a huge detriment for both the child and the family.
Elderly People at the Margins
This very moment, hundreds of elderly olim are desperately lonely, with no real reason to get up in the morning. They have nowhere to go, little family who live near them, and nothing to do at home. Israeli culture and celebrates youth and often turns a blind eye to the elderly in its midst.
Understanding and Protecting the Land
How often have you walked through the streets of an Israeli city and noticed trash on the ground? Or heard about the shrinking water in the Sea of Galilee, or Dead Sea? Or met an Israeli who didn’t know what composting is? Probably too many times. Unfortunately, many Israelis have a ways to go when it comes to environmental awareness.
Women at the Temple Margins
If you have been to the Western Wall recently, you may have noticed that the women’s section is markedly smaller than the men’s section, despite the fact that the number of visitors on both sides is approximately the same. This leaves many women feeling disrespected, not to mention uncomfortable, while praying at one of the most holy sites of the Jewish people.
Hugging and Wrestling advocates for the value of criticism in a committed relationship between the Diaspora and Israel, and suggests educational strategies to accompany this alternative paradigm. In particular we draw attention to the riches of Israeli arts, whose multi-dimensional form allows for inspiration as well as critique.
Creativity in Coalition suggests that to build momentum for change in Israel education requires bringing diverse people with varied strengths together. It advocates the kinds of skills and attributes useful for the coalition to succeed and highlights the emotional challenge of change in this arena. This presentation was originally given at a MAKOM network meeting.