The Israeli economy is strong. The country is enjoying its 15th consecutive year of growth, with GDP increasing on average by 4.0% annually since 2003.
Unemployment is at historically low level, and the average standard of living is improving steadily.
Homelessness is a rare phenomenon. A December 2015 study found there to be about 2,300 homeless people in Israel, out of a population of about 8.5 million, normally due alcoholism, followed by financial problems and mental illness, but it's not always sunshine and roses, the Israeli economic growth overshadows huge social problems in Israel.
As a country that encourages the return of its people to its homeland, Israel has over the past 30 years has absorbed well over a million people many of whom came to the country without any financial resources.
The poverty rate among immigrants (those who made Aliyah since 1990) increased from 17.0% in 2016 to 18.4% in 2017.
Modern society creates its own problems resulting in dysfunction, more pressure leading to more psychiatric illness, more family conflict and single parent families, and the poverty level among elderly citizens in Israel increases every day.
The National Insurance Institute of Israel (Bituach Leumi) released an update on the current levels of poverty in Israel. The report detailed that last 10 years there was an increase in poverty level among the elderly each year by 1.6%. Among them there are over 70,000 of Holocaust survivors in need.
A total of 1,780,500 Israelis – including 466,400 families and 814,800 children, some 21.2% of the population – are living below the poverty line.
Besides that, the Israeli society is indeed marked by large inequalities. Almost 18% of the population live in relative poverty, around half of Israeli-Arabs and Haredim (Jewish ultra-orthodox ) are poor and live separately from the rest of the population. They have different school systems, live mostly in different cities and do not serve in the army.
Haredi men have a cultural preference to engage in full-time religious studies, rather than participate in the labor market, and avoid core subjects in their school careers. Furthermore, Haredi women can work only part-time because of their large families.
The majority of Israeli-Arab women also do not participate in the labor market due to cultural preferences.
The result is that most Haredi and Arab families have only one breadwinner, resulting in significant problems of poverty, notably among children.”
LEKET ISRAEL is the largest nonprofit food rescue organization in the country that rescues fresh and perishable food, which would otherwise be considered waste, from farms, hotels, military bases and event halls.
“We are the Start-Up Nation, and yes, we have a flourishing middle class. However, there are still many pockets of our society where people struggle every day to put food on their tables for their families. The problem is even more acute in sectors of the country with high unemployment, and with the elderly and Holocaust survivors who live on very small pensions. They desperately need our help,” said Joseph Gitler (LEKET's founder).
L.I.F.T. has played a significant role in the fight to reduce hunger in Israel, when Dr. George Annadorai with the support of many Christians from Asia and the Pacific islands contributed to the purchase of the Binyamina field in 2017.
According to Shira Woolf (LEKET ISRAEL's Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator), this field is very important because it enables LEKET to grow in demand vegetables.
“Since in Israel we only eat produce that’s in season we wanted to make sure that we always have what we call the Israeli salad vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers – so we use our land to make sure they’re always available,” said Shira Woolf.
We from SIAP, will not lessen our efforts to alleviate the effects of poverty among the people of Israel even though we know that the poor will always be among us as the scripture says:
Deuteronomy 15:11 - “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying: You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”