Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Kislev 5764 - November 26, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Message of Agudath Israel of America's Boruch MiBonim Fund

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 Yisroel.

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 pensioners.

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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