The Message of Agudath Israel of America's Boruch MiBonim
This week, in which Agudath Israel of America holds its
annual convention, is an appropriate time to express our
admiration and appreciation for their Boruch MiBonim newborn
subsidy fund that sends both money and a message to Eretz
Created last July in response to the Israeli government
cutback of its traditional grant awarded to parents on the
birth of a baby, the American Agudah announced that it has
made its first disbursements.
The government's severe cutback of the grants made to
families at births was at least as important for the message
it sent as for the money it spent. The money was not that
much for the Israel government, amounting to several million
shekels in a budget of over NIS 200 billion.
And to the families -- a one-time gift of NIS 1,400 ($310) is
nice, but the money is not critical in any sense. It is
welcome and pleasant and it comes at a time of happy stress,
but the amount is far from the full expenses associated with
a birth. Maybe it will pay for a new bed or a stay in a new
mothers' convalescent home.
Most of all, the grant was a message from the government that
it was also happy that the baby was born. And this is
precisely the message that Shinui, and the government insofar
as it carries out Shinui's program, does not want to send.
The government now gives the full grant only to the first
child born to a family (so that Shinui-supporters will get it
as well), and to cases of multiple birth. To all other births
the Shinui-driven government says: We do not want your baby.
There is nothing subtle about Shinui, and its cabinet
ministers say this explicitly: They criticize large families
and support animal rights instead.
Against this background, the initiative of Agudath Israel of
America is particularly welcome. When he announced the
project, Agudath Israel executive vice president Rabbi Shmuel
Bloom noted that the realization of how important Jewish
children are to the Jewish future is something that needs to
be faced by every Jewish community, around the world. "But
Jewish babies are particularly important to Israel," he said
last July, "and we must do everything we can to help Jews
there whose lives reflect that realization."
There is no other place to seek the future of the Jewish
people outside of our own cradles. All indications are that
the Jewish community of America is shrinking as are most
Jewish communities around the world. The average age of
American Jewry is over 50, so mass immigration of the general
American Jewish population would fill Israel up with
The Treasury boys in Israel say they want to encourage the
productive sectors of Israeli society. Their shortsighted
definition of productivity embraces immediate economic
activity. But the truly important long-term production for
the Jewish people is of new Jews, and it is no secret that
the most productive sector in this sense is the chareidim.
Those who want to apply for a grant from the Boruch MiBonim
fund should contact the offices of Degel Hatorah or Agudas
Yisroel, bringing along the Certificate of Birth issued by
the hospital and a copy of their Teudat Zehut. There is an
application form to fill out.
The Boruch MiBonim is setting its policy based on the number
of requests it receives and the support of its donors. In its
first allocations, the committee decided to make up the full
difference from the cutbacks (NIS 948) for recipient families
with more than 10 children, and to give all those with at
least five children a grant of NIS 500.
You will get some financial support from American Jewry, but
do not forget the message of moral support and encouragement:
be productive -- have children!
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