Uncovering Facts and Shattering Myths

As the newspaper of Torah Jewry, the Hamodia has the singular merit to publish editions on three continents — in the United States, Europe and Israel. We are cognizant of the fact that part of our mission is to help readers connect to, and learn the truth about the lives of, their brethren across the globe.

For many of the residents of Eretz Yisrael, extreme poverty and hungry children are part of day-to-day living, seen in neighborhoods throughout the land. Fish and chicken — considered staples for suppers in America and Europe — are considered in many circles as special treats, served, when they can be afforded, in tiny portions only on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Yet skeptical Jews in the Diaspora have many questions.

They wonder if the passionate fund-raising appeals they get in the mail aren’t wildly exaggerated. There is poverty everywhere; is it really so much worse in the Holy Land? How many families are really poor, and how many are mismanaging their income? Doesn’t the Israeli government give generous subsidies to the indigent?

Then there are the many who argue that the poverty is solely caused by unwillingness to go to work. If they will only agree to get jobs, then all will be well.

Starting this week, in response to requests, we are pleased to begin a three-part investigative report that seeks to look past the rhetoric and uncover the facts. Using official statistics and interviews with those in the know, the report shatters widely held myths and tells the real story of poverty in Israel in general, and the chareidi sector in particular.

As detailed in this week’s segment, in sharp contrast to what many assume, it turns out that in more than two-thirds of chareidi families living below the poverty line, both parents work.

In that case, why are so many chareidim struggling to cover the most basic living expenses? Why are so many little children in Israel going hungry?

The answers to these questions and many more will, b’ezras Hashem, be explored in the coming weeks on these pages.