Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Ravitz: "Suddenly Everyone Has Begun to Talk About Poverty"

by G. Kleiman

"I get the impression the red light of poverty in Israel has lit among the policy makers and everyone is talking about poverty. I am a bit wary of the talkers. Every pair of MKs has a plan of their own. In my opinion the only practical plan for addressing poverty is that of the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi), which has the professional tools to formulate it," said Deputy Welfare Minister Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz during a special meeting with the National Insurance Institute's board of directors and branch managers shortly before Rosh Hashonoh.

Rabbi Ravitz said the eve of Rosh Hashana is a time for self- reflection and Am Yisroel should consider the cost- benefit ratio and the profit-loss ratio in everything related to taking care of the weak elements of the population. "The economic policy took a high toll and claimed many victims. The price Israel paid for the growth, which surpassed expectations, is too high and Israel has turned into a poorer country overall. Who knows and feels the poverty in this country like you? I really hope the light that has been lit will bring the policy makers to do what is incumbent on them by adopting the National Insurance Institute's plan to confront poverty properly and to return the smile to families of limited means, large families and hundreds of thousands of hungry children."

National Insurance Director Dr. Yigal Ben-Shalom said that the Institute is available to all of Klal Yisroel from all social classes, just as the Arba Minim represent the different components of the Jewish population. "We succeeded in several areas, such as the cancellation of the decrees that sought to impose the Arrangements Law on the Institute, an increase in old-age allotments and other developments for the public. But most of all we conveyed the message of Israel's poor and I am happy to hear that this has penetrated where needed, although at this stage we are having trouble negotiating the implementation of the war on poverty."

Dr. Ben-Shalom praised Rabbi Ravitz for standing by the Institute and its workers and "properly representing the fundamental rights of National Insurance holders in the government and in the Knesset."

The branch managers told the Deputy Minister and the executive ranks of Bituach Leumi about the problems they face on a day-to-day basis at their respective branches. "I confront this poverty face-to-face and lack the ability to help effectively. I express my heartfelt sentiments and except for the external symptoms I don't have the ability to help them," bemoaned one manager. The managers from Rishon Letzion, Ramle and the Haifa Bay suburbs invited the Deputy Minister to meet with them at their branches for a close-up look.

The National Insurance figures for 5765 reveal that Israel has fewer unemployment and Guaranteed Income (Havtachat Hachnasa) recipients and more handicapped allotment recipients than last year. The National Insurance Institute attributes this not to a real improvement in the fundamentals but just to stricter eligibility requirements.

According to the statistics released in 5765, an average of 53,000 residents received unemployment per month, compared to 60,000 per month in 5764—a decrease of 13 percent. In 5765 an average of 144,300 families received Guaranteed Income allotments compared to 149,700 in 5764—a decrease of 3.2 percent. This figure points to stabilization in the number of Guaranteed Income recipients. The slight decrease is attributed to residual effects of the 2003 Arrangements Law.


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