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Nov 18, 2013

The Human Face of Poverty in the Holy Land (video)

This video was shown recently at the Agudah Convention in America.. my thoughts and comments after the video..

1. you will notice more females in this video (and there are not all that many) than in any video or ad or newspaper by the haredi community in Eretz Yisrael..

2. they could have made a possibly even stronger point by not making it a haredi issue. there is poverty all around, and the recent budget cuts hurt a lot of people, haredim included but not limited to that community. The first half of the video seems more anti-government than sympathetic to the haredim. They could have, or should have, shown images of general poor, not just haredim. The second half focused on haredi poverty and the images there are compatible with that.

3. the video itself was well-done, in my opinion. I thought it told the story well and created a sense of sympathy and a desire to help

4. It is a shame the only solution offered is give, more money, and more giving. Maybe it is time to be creative and find solutions from within. Without ascribing blame. If the poverty is so bad, maybe throwing money at it is not the best solution.

5. They don't seem to be asking for more vocational training programs, for better wages (even though they talk about the discrepancy of wages between men and women), for more job creation (even though it is mentioned how even working people are having a hard time making ends meet) - only for more subsidies and welfare payments. Teach a man to fish? While some individuals may want that over the fish itself, as a community they are not interested.

6. and yes, it would be negligent to not mention that this problem is self-inflicted. They are saying  - we insist on being poor, and the government is still at fault for not giving us enough money to get by with. As well, they don't see it as a problem - they are normally proud of being poor, of being moser nefesh for Torah. if they want to be poor, why is it so bad that the government cut the various welfare payments?

7. Despite all that, how can one not sympathize with them, show empathy, want to find a way to help? To help the kids that don't have food to take to school for lunch? To help the families that are learning Torah, no matter how much I think maybe they should reevaluate?

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  1. Sorry - no sympathy at all.

    They said described families have wilfully made a decision to be poor and not to work (or contribute to society), and then complain that they don't have enough money.

    I'm working long hours to support not only my family, but to pay taxes to support families of people who have decided not to work. As a result I spend less time with my family and less time to learn Torah.

    Yes poverty is a HUGE problem in Israeli society, but if the only solution that these people can think of is increased government handouts which means Israeli workers paying more taxes (and working even longer hours), then they have lost my sympathy.

    Why should Torah study of a Kollel family come at the expense of my Torah study?

    1. I work and pay taxes as well. I don't think I would work any less, or learn any more Torah, if the government stopped using some of my taxes to support Kollel families.

      But even if we accept your premise, I don't understand why you single out Kollel families. An increased amount of Torah study by Kollel families, but coming at the expense of my own personal Torah study, is a lot more acceptable to me than a lot of the other things my taxes go toward coming at the expense of my Torah study. You're OK with funding [insert government money-waster here] at the expense of your own Torah study?

  2. Michael I must disagree
    Hareidim pay VAT on everything they purchase, and taxes on new apartments amount to almost 50% of the purchase price.
    Out of a government budget of approx 400 Billion NIS kollel stipends plus kitzvat yeladim (before the recent cuts) came to about 3 Billion- far less than the budget for universities, sport and culture. I would argue that Hareidim are being over-taxed for what they receive.
    Israel can either decide to be a social welfare state, tax heavily and ensure that nobody starves, or can be more libertarian, tax lightly and let each man provide for himself. But the current state of affairs is unfair.
    The real problem in the Israeli economy is the gap between rich and poor- 50% of workers earn less than 6,500 ILS per month.
    The new finance minister has raised taxes and cut benefits for the poor and left corporate taxes unchanged.
    It is not the kollel system, but rather the inequlities in the Israeli economy that are causing the problems

  3. http://thepartialview.blogspot.com/2013/11/agudah-convention-motzei-shabbbos.html

    video was shown in the context of discussing the cuts to yeshivos in Israel.

  4. Earn money from homeNovember 18, 2013 9:08 PM

    Correction to video: In Beit Shemesh, low income families (including Kollel families) still get an Arnona discount.

  5. Anonymous,
    Yes, Haredim pay VAT but so does everyone else and everyone else spends more money therefore paying more in VAT. The video states that the average Charedi family income is 5100 shekel per month, therefore the maximum that they are paying in VAT is under 1000 shekel a month. The average secular family has an income of over 10,000 shekel and is therefore almost paying twice as much as VAT. In addition, the Charedi world spends a lot of money on private schools (where I believe there is no VAT) as well as purchasing from Gemach's and basement stores that don't pay VAT. In short, the Charedi VAT in no way adds up to the tax burden of everyone else.For more details on this see: It's all about money

  6. The video made me sick.
    First there was the misuse of the word "orthodox".

    Then, there was the line about Modiin Illit being a microcosm of all of Israel (it isn't, not by a long shot).

    Then there was the general feeling of killing their parents, getting the inheritance, and then asking for mercy as an orphan.

    If their goal to make people hate the Haredi establishment and distrust anyone asking for money, they did an excellent job!

    1. As a rule, I do not give money to anyone who shows up at my door. My view is that they shot themselves in the head; let them deal with the consequences.

    2. I'm willing to help people who have fallen onto hard times, but not those who have dived into hard times, knowingly, head first.
      "They knew they would never be rich, but they didn't know things would be this bad." Unless you have inherited a very large trust fund, I would say that a man who starts a family without ever planning to hold a job is foolish to the point of fecklessness.

  7. Of course I feel bad for children who suffer as a result of their parents' irresponsible choices. But continuing to fund and enable the irresponsible and unsustainable lifestyle that put the kids in the terrible situation in the first place will only lead to more kids in the exact same situation.

    It's time for the working Orthodox community to stop supporting people with no desire to support themselves. Yes, it will hurt at first. But cutting off the Israeli kollel system could lead to cultural and educational changes that will allow the Israeli charedi community to stand on its own two feet.


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