The Hope – Israeli NGOs
How can that old chestnut “hugging and wrestling” be interpreted in a positive way? How is it possible – educationally and generally – to identify flaws in Israeli society without running the place down?
Here we offer a list of information about NGOs in Israel who are working to better Israel and not batter Israel. Connecting to their work will allow you to appreciate a problem in Israel’s society, while at the same time learn about inspiring people working to fix it.
If We Build It, They Will Come: A Case for Developing the Field of Jewish Service Learning in Israel
June 10, 2012 by Dyonna Ginsburg
Dyonna Ginsburg is the Director of Jewish Service Learning at the Jewish Agency. Previously, Dyonna served as the Executive Director of Bema’aglei Tzedek, an Israeli social change organization, and was a founder of Siach: An Environment and Social Justice Conversation, an international network of Jewish social justice and environmental professionals.
Currently, the field of Jewish service-learning in Israel is characterized by a handful of programs that target young North American Jews and that are officially recognized and funded by Repair the World, an organization founded in 2009 to “make service a defining part of American Jewish life.”1
Although these programs are known for their high educational standards, many have struggled to fill their ranks and reach financial sustainability. Alongside these accredited programs are others, often larger and better endowed programs that include some aspects of volunteerism, but have yet to adopt the more stringent Standards of Practice for Immersive Jewish Service-Learning Programs developed by Repair the World (Repair the World, 2011).
Many—myself included—believe that the time has come for a concerted effort to build the field of Jewish service-learning (JSL) in Israel—exploring ways of expanding the smaller, high-quality, service-learning programs; adding necessary depth and authenticity to the larger, volunteer-oriented ones; and identifying additional program areas that can appeal to core concerns of young Jews not addressed by existing program offerings. To Full Post
Poverty Among Families
Recent economic success in many sectors of Israel society hide the ugly fact that poverty still haunts much of the nation. Recent studies have shown that 420,000 impoverished families resided in Israel (1.5 million people), including some 805,000 children. Perhaps even more alarming, 1 million Israelis go hungry on a regular basis.
The Problem: An Imperfect Jewish State
The Ideal and the Real
When most Israelis hear the term a “Jewish State,” they think of religious marriage and divorce, the Sabbath, and army exemptions for the Haredi sector. Few people associate the term “Jewish State” with a set of basic, moral obligations between the Israeli government and its citizens. Few think to ask what should a Jewish State do about:
Children with Sick Hearts Abroad, Resources They Need in Israel
Right this moment, thousands of infants and children across the world are suffering from heart disease. Some of these children have access to the treatment that can help them. Unfortunately, many children do not. Many of these children suffer from congenital heart disease, which is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects.
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.