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 www.yadezra.net