Educationally, we recommend that the encounter with the current protests in Israel be viewed through the broader Jewish historical lens. This section seeks to frame the contemporary conversation in Israel…
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:
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.
In this session we explore where our appreciation of Am, of Peoplehood, intersects with our desire for economic freedom – freedom to make a living, and freedom from poverty. We also explore whether our allegiances alter according to where someone may live (B’Artzenu). At the same time we deepen the connection between these issues and our Jewish identity and values, and finally point to inspirational work being done in Judaism’s name in Israel.