Following the State of the Child report released on Tuesday by the National
Council for the Child, which revealed an increase in the percentage of Israeli
children living under the poverty line, local NGOs combating this issue say they
are not surprised.
This week revealed a variety of alarming facts
concerning children in Israel. Prior to Tuesday’s report, the organization Latet
also published data showing that half of the minors from needy families
currently are forced to work to help support their family. Ten percent of these
children have also begged for money in the streets in 2012, and 27 percent of
Israeli minors have gone entire days without food in the past
“These figures are surprising for the public, but not for us,”
Menashe Cohen, director of the NGO Hom, told The Jerusalem Post on
“We know these are very disturbing numbers, but we deal with
this every single day.”
Founded in 2004, Hom works mainly to combat child
hunger with large, nationwide distributions of food, but also provides kids with
clothing, toys and other basic needs.
Cohen, who grew up in poverty
himself and has witnessed the phenomenon as an educator, explained that the
financial difficulties of some Israeli families take a grave toll on the
children, who do not have things like bread or milk at home.
hungry,” he said, “and they don’t even tell their friends that after school they
go to work with that hunger so they can make money and financially contribute to
their family, because they feel ashamed.”
Cohen added that some search
for empty cans and bottles in the streets to sell for recycling so they can buy
“Their distress is huge,” he said. “If we can bring some light
to their lives and ensure that they get at least the chance to have a Shabbat
meal at home, we are going to do everything we can.”
Yossi Kaufman of Yad
Eliezer, which engages in similar activities via donations from around the
world, said he does not recall a year where child poverty numbers decreased in
“The requests for help that we receive from families only
increase, but even with that, when you hear their individual personal stories
You just can’t ease to that, ever,” Kaufman
“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a parent and have to tell
your child that there is no food tonight,” he added. “The kids suffer tragically
and they didn’t do anything wrong. Neither did their parents.”
recalled that just this week he was touched by a man who had come into the
offices of Yad Eliezer to ask for a winter coat for his child.
explained that his organization provides for tens of thousands of individuals by
providing food packages, baby formula, clothing and even entertainment for
children and their families.
“We are doing whatever we can with whatever
we have,” he said. “The reality is that people are tremendously and desperately
The recent figures have brought about many reactions in the
past few days. On Tuesday, as the State of the Child report was presented to
him, President Shimon Peres called for immediate action on the
“Children can be a burden or a blessing, depending on what is
invested in them,” he said.
Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.