Israel is an incredible nation that has exported ideas and technology around the world. Furthermore, many who take tours to Israel are impressed by the high standard of living and safety that they see, unlike what many watch on the nightly news. For this reason, I recently had an American who had visited Israel ask me why there are so many projects to help the poor in Israel, since it seems to be a fairly well developed country with a decent standard of living. The truth is, they were right in noting Israel’s significant development and innovation, and that the real Israel was not as backwards as some portray her. However, the land of milk and honey has not been restored yet and, as such, continues to suffer from a large problem with poverty compared to other Western nations.
In a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israel was ranked second only to Mexico in its poverty rates when compared to other OECD member states (Atad, Aman, 5/2/2012, Ynet.com). Israel ranked fifth among OECD countries in her level of inequality between citizens. Though part of this ranking is due to the Arab sector and the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector, who have high rates of unemployment, this does not explain everything.
Another significant contributing factor is the prevalence of low-wage work available in Israel. Among Western nations, the average percent of the population with low wage work is around 10%. However, in Israel about a quarter of the population has a low wage job (Israel: A Divided Society, OECD, January 20, 2010). Even the average Israeli salary is very low compared to salaries in other Western countries. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the average Israeli salary is 8,935 shekels (Fleisher, Malkah, December 6, 2012), or around 2,450 dollars. For two incomes, it is a little over 12,000 shekels, or about $3,318. According to the Taub Center for Social Policy, Israelis have to work more hours to pay for many daily necessities. Housing is the most expensive, with Israel being more expensive than 174 out of 175 large American cities based on the number of years of work it takes for the average Israeli to buy an apartment (Filut, Adrian, 5 September, 2011). Cars are also very expensive, costing 46% higher than the OECD average according to the same report.
Imagine graduating from university with a degree with honors or having extensive experience in the workforce and then only making around $2,000 a month in a good job and spending about $1,000 of that or more on rent. This is a very realistic scenario for a huge number of Israelis, making it difficult to not go into debt. The good news is that God says He is close to those in need and provides for all of our needs (Matthew 6:31-32).
On the other hand, there are many in Israel who are on the brink of going hungry or being severely in debt in Israel and they greatly benefit from those whose heart God impresses to help. At Hope for Israel, we are happy that we can be an instrument in God’s hands to bless many who are in dire need. Each year, we have been able to bless hundreds of families through our holiday projects in which we give boxes of food or coupons so that these families can celebrate the holidays without worrying about provision. Furthermore, we provide financial help to many families who have outstanding circumstances or debts. All of this is only possible due to God placing Israel on the hearts of people in the Body of Messiah around the world. We look forward to the day when God restores all of Israel and pray that He would meet the needy in the meanwhile and comfort them in their trouble.
Atad, Aman. “Israel Rates 2nd in Poverty Rates Among OECD Countries.” (5/2/2012) Ynet.com http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4220785,00.html
Filut, Adrian. “Taub Center: Cost of Living in Israel Exceeds OECD Average” (5 September, 2011) Globes.com http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000679503&fid=1725
Fleisher, Malkah. “Average Israeli Salary Rises in September” (December 6, 2012) The Jewish Press. http://www.jewishpress.com/news/average-israeli-salary-rises-in-september/2012/12/06/
“Israel: A Divided Society” (January 20, 2010) The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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