In many places around the world, Israel is associated with tech, innovation and progress. While this association is certainly warranted, the story of life in Israel is more complex for many Israeli families. According to the country’s annual poverty report, a shocking 20% of Israelis are living below the poverty line. This is a larger percent of children living in poverty and hunger than in any other developed nation.
The facts about poverty in Israel can be surprising and upsetting to hear, but according to the national poverty report, over 1,700,000 individuals in Israel are unable to afford necessities. Many individuals have to make the heartbreaking choice between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table.
For religious families, the phenomena is even more widespread. A little under half of Haredi Orthodox families are living below the poverty line and unable to provide their children with enough food, which can lead to malnutrition and undernutrition.
What are the causes of poverty in Israel?
Israel has a booming economy, but with one in five Israelis living under the poverty line, it is natural to ask why. The causes are different for each individual family and also affected by community and region – but the high numbers for Haredi families are in large part a result of low wages and employment rates in religious communities.
The wage gap is high in Israel, and while the small percentage working in the tech sector enjoy high salaries, average monthly pay in other fields is often barely enough to cover living expenses – if it is enough at all.
Every year politicians discuss these figures and debate proper solutions to address the poverty and hunger crisis in Israel. We support new measures to help impoverished communities, but as a Jewish charity feeding the poor in Israel, we must say to ourselves, “If not now, when?” Progress in government can be slow, but we must feed children in Israel today.
This is why Bread for Israel was formed – to take action right now to feed Jewish children. With the support of our generous donors and tireless volunteers, we are able to deliver bread to hungry families throughout the whole of Israel. And while it is important to continue to ask why, and to continue to support the nation’s pursuit of long-lasting solutions to this crisis, we are equally dedicated to taking on the responsibility to feed our communities, and bolster the strength, health and wellbeing of our country.