Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Teves 5766 - January 4, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Most Foster Parents in Israel are Religious

by Aryeh Zissman

Last week the mainstream press (Ma'ariv) published an eye-catching article. The writer, Dr. Shlomo Tzadok, defines himself as a secular Jew and a social activist. Under the headline "Chilonim Le'atzmam" ("Secularists for Themselves") the writer mercilessly thrashes secular families for failing to adopt children like chareidi, religious and traditional families do. The following is the article, with light editing where needed.


Not all yaldei Yisroel are happy on Chanukah. While Chanukah candles are being lit in many homes, doughnuts eaten and songs sung about the victory of the Jews over the Greeks, there are sad children and some are even shedding tears. These children live in shelters without mother or father or a warm family. They are waiting for their Chanukah miracle to arrive.

Hundreds of homeless children are waiting for their saviors. This is not to say there are no righteous families in Israel who are moved to take in and provide and give love to these children. Not at all. There are a lot. Perhaps not enough, but they exist. But this is just the point. The vast majority of families that serve as adoptive families are chareidi, religious and traditional families.

At first we thought this was merely an unfounded figure, so we checked into the matter, asked questions and investigated. And here are the statistics. Nearly 70 percent of adoptive families are chareidi, religious and traditional. Only 20-25 percent of adoptive families are secular. The numbers are even more astonishing when it comes to homeless children with mental or physical retardation. In this case 90 percent of the families are chareidi or religious.

And what is the proportion of religious families in Israel? Thirty to thirty-five percent. Now let's see us secular Jews light Chanukah candles without getting doughnuts stuck in our throats.

Another statistic: The secular kibbutzim, which once carried high the banner of adoption in Israel, has fallen to nil . . . I stand before you with head bowed low before all of the religious families that kindle lights in the hearts of the masses of adopted children. But at the same time, as a secular Jew I ask myself why. Why, where there is Sodom and Gomorrah we are the majority — and where someone is needed to light Chanukah candles we are the minority?

True, we flourished, we dried up the swamps, we built, we fought, we contributed—the cliches abound. But where are we when people are needed to save helpless, young children from the darkness of life and the inferno of survival? The experts say there is something in the Jewish religion, perhaps a hidden light, that leads chareidi families of ten or more to bring another homeless sibling into their home. `Hashem ya'azor. There will be enough room for all of us. There will be enough food to go around,' they say.

And what do we say? I, for one, do not have the answer. Perhaps we will say we were busy in high-tech and personal fulfillment. But let us not wind up sobbing over our country and the way it looks.


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