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Israeli Poor Ask How They Are to Feed Their Children

December 21, 2014

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  (1 John 3:17)

The recent National Insurance Institute 2013 Poverty Report has revealed that one in five Israelis (1.6 million) live below the poverty line.

Four out of five Israelis spend more than they make.

A 47-year-old mother of five living in Jerusalem responded to the survey, saying, “I do not need a poverty report to know that the three jobs my husband and I work do not pay enough to survive.  We are fighting for food and clothing.  They say there are tough security situations in Jerusalem?  The war is first and foremost inside the home: how to survive, how to live, how do I feed my kids.”  (YNet)


Israeli children visit the Knesset Menorah, a bronze monument in front of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).  The sculpture’s engravings are considered a visual “textbook” of Jewish history.

Half of the reported 1.6 million are children.

“The average Israeli family cannot ‘make ends meet’; across all population groups in Israel, expenditures exceed income,” said a study released Wednesday by the Jerusalem-based Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.

“High housing prices are the primary reason for this phenomenon, and for non-Haredi Jews, the purchase of an apartment is the factor that shifts them from a positive to a negative monthly balance.  The average household cannot purchase an apartment without assistance, which usually comes from their parents’ gradually decreasing savings,” reads a summary of the report’s findings.  (Times of Israel)

Still, there is some good news.  The percentage of families living in poverty fell from 19.4 percent in 2012 to 18.6 percent in 2013.  The percentage of children living in poverty decreased from 33.7 in 2012 to 30.8 in 2013.

There was also an increase in the employment rate in 2013, from 72.4% in 2012 to 79.6% in men and from 64.6% to 70.3% for women.  (i24news)

Family-Tel Baruch Beach-Tel Aviv

An Israeli family plays together on Tel Baruch Beach in Tel Aviv  (Dreamstime photo by Felix Bensman)

In the Arab community, the poverty rate declined 7%, from 54.4% in 2012 to 47.4% in 2013.  This was mostly due to an increase in employment, especially among women.  Within the ultra-Orthodox community, however, the poverty rate increased to 66% in 2013.  It was 60% in 2012.

While this indicates an overall drop in the poverty rate year after year, the bank report also shows a worrisome increase in the number of poor in working families.  The total number of poor families in 2013 stood at 432,600.

An individual ranks as poor if he or she earns less than NIS 2,989 ($762) a month.  A couple that earns less than NIS 4,783 ($1,220) a month and a family of five less than NIS 9,000 ($2,300) monthly are considered as being poor.

These limits reveal just how dire the situation actually is for many families whose income is extremely low considering the cost of living in Israel; for instance, rent for a Jerusalem apartment can easily run to NIS 5,000 a month.

“If you take into account the general cost of living in Israel which is high, and the cost of housing which is rising, and the low salaries—which are related to the low productivity of the Israeli labor force—the middle-income people in Israel have a very tough life,” Omer Moav, professor of economics at the University of Warwick in England and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

The report explains that the cut in the monthly governmental child allowance payments and the increase in the Value Added Tax to 18% brought an additional 90,000 people under the poverty line.

It also showed an increase in the numbers of heads of households out of work from 66.1% in 2012 to 72.9% in 2014.

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