Israeli law gives formidable power to social workers and far-
reaching jurisdiction to welfare authorities. Social workers
are authorized to deal with families and youth in distress
particularly in the area of interfamily relations but also a
child's education, relations between a couple and between a
woman and her family.
Welfare authorities are authorized to switch students from
one educational institution to another, to eject people from
their homes, to separate family members, to remove children
from their homes and place them in dormitory institutions or
foster homes, and even to give children up for adoption and
separate them from their family forever.
It is alarming that such fateful decisions are made
unilaterally by them, and they are given full backing by the
courts and police.
The vast majority of officials employed in these sensitive
positions do not come from traditional Jewish backgrounds and
all the less so from a religious one. Their knowledge of the
religious public's way of life is fallacious (if it exists at
all) and the concept of da'as Torah is totally foreign
to them. Because of this, and because the general atmosphere
in the State is of discriminating against religious families
because of their religious background, many social workers
believe that all means are acceptable to achieving their end,
including false, prejudiced reports to the court.
An example of this clear anti-religious bias can seen in the
social report on family S. which recommends that the children
be removed from their religious mother's care and transferred
to their secular father: " . . . It's important to mention
that for the duration of this year, significant attention
should be paid to the emotional containment of the children
due to the extreme passage (from the home of a religious
mother to the home of a secular father...) to make it as easy
as possible for them, and to enable a gradual lifestyle
change so the children will be ready to accept it . . . "
The secular approach in social work threatens the religious
individual and causes damage, sometimes irreversible, to the
life spirit of the religious public -- its children.
Under the present system, many religious families are too
intimidated to turn to municipal welfare offices. They
continue to sink in the morass of their problems.
Why aren't there religious social workers in the system?
The religious community has capable professionals, but the
authorities prevent them from being active in the municipal
framework. Discrimination exists against the religious
community in employing social workers and psychologists from
this sector as well as developing special projects for it and
providing it with resources. In a city like Bnei Brak where
the entire government is in religious hands, it is not such a
problem, but in Yerushalayim it is.
Funds and Resources
In Jerusalem, for its 500,000 residents, the municipality
employees 500 social workers. The religious community
comprises 160,000 souls (30% of the population), but only 15
social workers (3% of the total number) serve this sector. In
contrast, the Arab population has close to 100 social workers
with full autonomy, and its annual municipal funding is 80
million shekels, a quarter of the municipal welfare budget.
Social workers and special projects for the religious
population only receive funding comprising a mere few percent
of the total budget!
Additionally, three secular associations operate in Jerusalem
that were established by the municipality, which altogether
supply the city with 400 social workers. These social workers
dispense welfare services to the population without a tender
and enjoy budgets amounting to tens of millions of
Why Was Areshet Founded?
The many cases where a religious individual suffered
discrimination because he and his needs weren't understood
led to the founding of AReSHeT Organization -- Irgun Revacha
Shomrei Torah (Torah Observant Welfare Organization). Areshet
was founded by Rav Shimon Tajouri and its president is Harav
Benayahu Shmueli. The organization has received the support
and encouragement of HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, rosh yeshivas
Yeshivas Maalos HaTorah, and the recommendation of the
Eida HaChareidis beis din.
The organization is an address for a religious man who is
suffering distress and feels trampled and misunderstood by
the existing welfare system.
The organization also provides an alternative for religious
families who are reluctant to approach the municipal welfare
An additional goal of the organization is to organize the
religious social workers under one roof to work and prepare
suitable programs and projects for the religious community
which are respectful of its life style.
What does the Organization Give?
Areshet seeks to provide an alternative from two points-of-
view: A. From the point-of-view of religious families who are
suspicious of secular social workers and feel an aversion for
them. B. From the point-of-view of the government
authorities, who must realize that social services for the
religious must be given by professional religious social
* Areshet offers legal representation and the
professional team of a welfare official and psychologist for
each case. Diagnoses and court reports are prepared as
* Areshet is active in training religious social
* The organization holds seminars for preschool to post
high-school teachers, and rabbonim. The seminars teach how to
diagnose problems in time so that a person in need can
receive help before the welfare services are called in.
* We have set up an information center to supply data
concerning charity organizations in various fields and
professional welfare workers.
Areshet was founded because of the anti-religious and
discriminatory attitude of the welfare services against needy
religious families. Besides the benefits it provides to the
families themselves, Areshet offers support and assistance to
religious social workers when standing before the courts and
Decision Boards. The assistance is provided by lawyers guided
by da'as Torah who are supportive of the families'
Areshet needs your support and is here to support your needs.
Areshet may be contacted at: POB 28352, Jerusalem, 91283.
Telephone: 02 524 0114; 051 289435.