(photo credit: )
Employees of an organization that helps the blind and visually-impaired have
vowed to keep its doors open, despite financial straits that will send it into
On Monday, the Haifa District Court ruled that Migdal Or
(Tower of Light) will go into receivership, following the government’s refusal
to cover the organization’s deficit.
Migdal Or is Israel’s only training
and rehabilitation center for the blind and visually- impaired and is funded by
the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, with an annual operating budget of NIS
The non-profit provides services to more than 3,500 people a
year, including assessments of employment potential, technical training,
mobility training, and training in how to navigate day to day life as a
visually-impaired person. It also provides courses in computer science
Braille, and rehabilitation programs meant to repair worsening
Migdal Or says that its goal is to “lead the blind person to
functional independence and employment, and the ability to lead an
day to day life.” It operates branches in Kiryat Haim, Tel Aviv,
Ronit Landsman, the head of Migdal Or’s workers committee,
said the main problem is that the government has not updated the amount
it provides since it first began funding Migdal Or in 2000.
“In 2000, we
started receiving government support, and over the past 10 years, the
support] have stayed exactly the same, without taking into account the
operating costs. This gap continued climbing and climbing until we
situation we have today,” Landsman said.
She dismissed government claims
that the group’s financial situation is the result of inept management,
“There is no corruption or waste here. What we are is a charity that
superb service and has never asked for anything excessive.”
vowed that the organization would continue to operate as before.
still want to work and we believe very much in our organization and the
we provide,” she said. “We won’t close; we will keep working every day,
hour, with people from all over Israel.”
Welfare Ministry director-general
Nahum Itzkovich denied that Migdal Or’s problems were caused by the
failure to raise budgetary allotments over the years, saying that
failings on the part of Migdal Or led to its financial distress.
on the part of the management is what brought them to a deficit of NIS
spite of the NIS 14m. that the Welfare Ministry gives them each year,”
“It’s always easiest to blame someone else when your business
fails,” Itzkovich said.
“We feel that the fact that an organization
failed isn’t a reason for the taxpayer to pay its debts.”
that Migdal Or is not the only provider of assistance to the blind and
there are dozens more in Israel that provide services to the visually
“Our main obligation is to the blind, and if we can also give a
solution to the workers [of Migdal Or], we would like to do so as well,”