Deputy Minister of Welfare MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz convened
his department and bureau heads to discuss for the first time
the issue of handling welfare problems in the chareidi
sector. The aim of the meeting was to formulate a plan to
make welfare services more available to the chareidi sector
and to develop services suited to their way of life.
A team of senior ministry officials headed by Community Labor
Services Director Baruch Sugarman led a fruitful discussion
with department heads and bureau heads from several chareidi
and mixed cities.
Rabbi Ravitz said he believes the welfare system has a great
deal to offer the chareidi sector, but that the chareidi
public does not seek out these services because of
apprehensions regarding some welfare workers and other
problems. "The welfare system must work to restore the
chareidi public's faith in it," he said. "It must suit itself
to this large sector in a state of severe [financial]
distress and understand its needs and offer it solutions
suited to its values."
Mrs. Goldberg, director of the welfare department at the City
of Jerusalem, said she has seen a gradual increase in the use
of welfare services by the chareidi sector, attributing the
shift to financial difficulties, aliya from Western countries
and changes in the services themselves. She said services
have become better suited to chareidim, citing cooperation
with a rabbinical committee that gives legitimacy to social
services. "The rabbonim are involved not just in emergencies.
Sometimes they bring cases that were previously unknown to
the welfare services. The rabbonim are partners in the plans
for handling families and in prevention plans."
Mrs. Mauel, director of the welfare department in Bnei Brak,
said she has encountered problems resulting from a lack of
male social workers. "Today there are more chareidi women
workers and there are training programs for chareidi women,
but there is a lack of male social workers."
Mrs. Mevorach, director of social services in Beitar, said
large families turn to her with complex problems requiring
greater input, both in terms of the social worker's time and
budgeting. She noted the Welfare Ministry allocates funds
according to the number of families rather the number of
individuals, therefore the strain is enormous.
Mrs. Deri, the director of social services in Elad, said
chareidi mothers face greater difficulties due to large
families, crowded housing and other problems. "The welfare
system has built various plans to strengthen women and
restore them to proper functioning in the family, but this is
The director of social services in Tiberius, Menashe Cohen,
said in his city there are large concentrations of chareidim
that have never turned to the Welfare Bureau despite their
All of the speakers made favorable remarks about the major
change in the area of helping special children in the
chareidi sector and the holy work of nonprofit organizations
like Aleh, Ezer Mitzion, Alei Siach and Sod Siach. The
proposals raised during the meeting included training women
who already work with needy families in an unofficial
capacity to act as liaisons between the welfare services and
the chareidi community, developing child and youth services
in the community in coordination with the chareidi
educational system, developing cultural services for women,
At the end of the meeting Community Labor Services Director
Baruch Sugarman said he had learned much from the meeting and
after all of the necessary information has been gathered the
department heads in other cities as well would be summoned
and together a plan would be formulated to properly handle
welfare problems in the chareidi sector.