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One Million Children in Israel Go to Bed Hungry

One Million Children in Israel Go to Bed Hungry

Poverty in Israel is the highest rate in the developed world.


The latest figures are out and they are not encouraging. Over one million children – or one out of every three children in Israel – go to bed hungry. Over 53% of children in Jerusalem are impoverished.

We read these words annually. We see the ads from charity organizations asking for money for food for poor people in Israel. And yet, nothing has changed and the problem, like a continuous leaking faucet, continues to spread disaster everywhere. How can it be that Jewish children are going hungry in Israel?

Unlike third world countries, food is available. However, poor children are still suffering from malnutrition and hunger. A cheap diet is one full of carbohydrates; puffed wheat cereal for breakfast; white bread with butter for lunch; white noodles for dinner – every day. Children on this diet will eventually become malnourished.

A survey of children under 10 showed many going to sleep hungry at night. When a parent's income is below the poverty line, automatic payments such as rent or mortgage, medical insurance and school tuition, are deducted immediately from a bank account. Electricity, water and tax bills further deplete the account and there is almost nothing left for food and other basic needs. Families are forced to manage without the basics, or turn in desperation to organizations that provide food baskets for the poor. There are currently over 400 philanthropic organizations whose mission is to provide food for the poor of Israel.

Why does this problem exist?

Many blame the government for cutting the security net for poor people many years ago. Others blame the high cost of rent, where the price of housing is imbalanced due to the constant influx of new immigrants (which always makes the demand for housing greater than the supply). Thirdly, many affluent Jewish people from all over the world buy apartments in Israel, which are often unoccupied during the course of a year, thus driving the costs even higher.

And lastly, the government is embarrassed with the image of children going hungry in Israel. It conflicts Israel's image as the developed 'start up' nation. They ignore the problem. As one mayor of a city stated, "There are no poor in my city," when in fact hundreds were calling food organizations to help.

Aryeh Lurie, the founder of Yad Ezra V'Shulamit, came from an extremely poor family. “When you grow up poor, you learn to care about others. Some days I had a sandwich for school, and some days I didn't. On the days I did, I knew I had to share my food with my friend who didn't have food that day. I understood very well how he felt.

“Another time, when I was a child waiting in line for a bag of potatoes, someone gave me a torn doll. They thought they were doing something kind but it hurt so deeply that I never forgot it. I promised myself that when I grew up, I would do something for the Jewish people.

“I started my organization 30 years ago to give food to the poor in a dignified and respectful manner. Today the organization helps almost 200,000 people annually. If we can maintain the self-esteem of every poor child who needs help, they will feel good about themselves and fulfill their potential.”

Aryeh Lurie’s experiences and extraordinary compassion moved him to assist destitute families.

The mitzvah to give tzedakah (charity) requires every Jewish person to donate 10% of his income. The Almighty tells us, "Take care of Mine, and I will take care of yours.” Rashi explains, “You take care of Mine – the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, and I will take care of yours, your sons and your daughters.” It is as though God gives us 10% more money than is due to us, and that extra 10% should be shared with the poor.

It is our collective responsibility as a people to make sure that Israel’s poor are fed. Let us all consider feeding one child or one family in Israel this year. As Aryeh Lurie said, "I can't sleep at night knowing there are children who are hungry. Let everyone make an effort – make it a priority to help feed Jewish children in Israel. These are all our children, our future and the future of Israel.”

To feed a Jewish child in Israel, please go to

January 15, 2018

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 10

(8) Mike, January 18, 2018 6:33 PM

blame corruption

Israel has become a place where there is corruption on every level. It's true that housing costs are so high that they can easily take up 5500 Shekels while the average salary is about 8000 Shekels. New apartments cost upward up 2 Million Shekels (about 500.000 Euros). The big question is: with such a market, why is not more being built. The cost of building can never be so high. Jews have built up cities in post-war Europe and in Canada there are many large Jewish-owned construction companies. There IS land enough, as you can see if you travel around Gush Dan (greater Tel Aviv area), the Galil and Yehuda and Shomron. Yet prices are high even in the underdeveloped areas. From my experience in Israel there is corruption at literally every level. It is very difficult to get any permit even if you are entitled to it. The same goes for supermarkets. Can anyone name a sane reason why prices are that high (There are Israeli products are sold in the US for lower prices fhan in Israel. It's not the fault of government, it is rampant corruption that prevents ordinary businesses from operating:

Dvirah, February 10, 2018 9:20 PM

Should be Obvious

Why not build more? When every new building is screamed at as an "illegal settlement" no matter where it's actually being built?
Although a more serious answer is: greed. Very sadly, greed has taken over and this is the result.

(7) Neria, January 18, 2018 5:32 PM

Thank you for this article

Thank you for this article! And please remember that electricity and water are very expensive in Israel- especially electricity for heating during these winter monthes - and this depletes the food bill. From my own Israel experiences, I know what it is to live on high carbohydrates- my brain works slower and it's harder to look around for low priced high protein and fiber food. Yes, we receive more than we give when we contribute time and finances to providing food for our sisters and brothers. May we all be richly blessed in our abilities of Tzedekah.

(6) Tefila Buxbaum, January 18, 2018 2:43 PM

A Note from the Author on Sources of Information Used for this Article

Our article on poverty was prompted by the recent release (December 2017) of the Taub Center’s annual State of the Nation Report. As is noted by The National Insurance Institute of Israel; “the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel provides the country's leading policy makers and the general public with a 'big picture' perspective in the economic and social spheres. The Center's interdisciplinary teams of prominent academic researchers, leading experts from the policy realm, and the Center's professional staff conduct research and develop policy recommendations on the important socio-economic issues facing the country.”

The publication of the report was big news in all the country’s major papers and news outlets, including but not limited to; The Jerusalem Post; The Times of Israel; HaModia; Yediot Achranot; Maariv; Haaretz; Arutz Sheva; Globes Business Journal.

The report dealt at length with the issues of poverty in Israel and all news sources expressed concern and agreed the government could do more. Of course, depending on their political and religious persuasions, different news sources emphasized different aspects of the report. Our article looked at poverty from an ethical and religious perspective. You may disagree with our conclusions but our statistics on poverty come from reliable and well-respected sources.

Mike, January 18, 2018 8:26 PM

yeah well

If I remember correctly, the definition of poverty, or to be more precise "to be under the poverty line" in Israel is the lowest third of the population. The result from this method is that there is ALWAYS one third of the population under the poverty line, which is then translated into a figure of the number of people which Israeli politicians conveniently quote.
I also have doubts regarding the number of children who supposedly go to bed "hungry". One million?? Israel has only about 8 million people.
Also, in the statistic you quote, how many children were Arab children? Is it also not true that significant parts of the population, Jewish and Arab falsely claim to be poor to receive more benefits?

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