Visitors to Israel are often awed by the country’s beautiful scenery, rich culture, thriving nightlife and its many successful start-ups. What many people don’t see is the darker side of Israel, the pervasive poverty that affects so many of its citizens and leave thousands without enough food to eat.

In the Central Bureau of Statistics’ annual report on poverty, released last week, the figures speak for themselves.

The report reveals that 11% of Israelis are forced to go without food at least once every two days, and 16% of Israelis over the age of 20 have given up on food at least once because they couldn’t afford it.

It’s Not Just Food
In addition to giving up on food, many Israelis need to give up on other basic necessities: heating and cooling their apartments. According to the report, 41% of Israelis – 1.2 million – could not heat or cool their homes due to the hefty electric bills.

Moreover, 9% of Israelis – 452,300 – were actually cut off from electricity because they couldn’t afford to pay their electric bills.

Why Working Doesn’t Work
The report indicated an increase in the number of couples who work but still cannot make ends meet, which explains why more and more families don’t have enough to eat. 34% of households in which both partners work cannot pay their bills! In households where only one partner works, that number rises to 51%.

How to Help
While the numbers are depressing, we cannot just give up. Yad Ezra V’Shulamit continues in its efforts to distribute food baskets to thousands families who do not have enough to eat and who cannot afford to buy basic food items. Yad Ezra also feeds hundreds of children daily hot meals in our Children’s Centers.

Our goal is not just to address the immediate lack, but to address the source of the problem and to provide families and children with the tools to be able to support themselves and to break out of this terrible cycle of poverty.

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