Dollar's weakness hobbles haredi sector

World financial crisis hits donations to organizations, institutions.

haredi shopping 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
haredi shopping 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The continued weakness of the dollar against the shekel and the global liquidity crisis have seriously affected the budgets of haredi educational institutions and charity organizations, with the value of donations down NIS 350 million over the past year. "About 40 percent of the annual budget of the institutions is derived mainly from abroad," said Rabbi Abraham Shor, director of institutions for the Karlin Hassidim. "The drop in the value of the dollar is catastrophic for managing the budget of institutions. Food and energy prices are continuing to rise while the money that is coming in is shrinking by millions." Institutions were hit by a drop in the value of donations in shekel terms, which comes close to an average of 35% a year, Shor said. "Out of a total annual budget of over NIS 50m., our institutions have suffered a direct loss of NIS 7m.," he said. Ahead of the haredi version of the annual Caesarea Conference, which commences on Tuesday in Jerusalem and is expected to draw leading haredi business executives, a survey among institutions and organizations found that from the end of June 2007 to the end of this June, revenues have plummeted some NIS 350m., mainly due to the weakness of the dollar and a slowdown in donations from benefactors in the US and the UK. The two-day conference will be presided over by billionaire businessman Lev Leviev. The survey is based on data from more than 80 haredi charity organizations such as Yad Sarah, Ezer Mizion and others and educational institutions like Migdal Or and Viznitz. Since July 2007, the US currency has lost 20% of its value against the shekel. On average, the haredi organizations and institutions received annual donations of more than NIS 1 billion, narrowed by about 31% on average. Donations make up about 43% out of the total budget of these institutions. The survey revealed that 48% of questioned institutions and organizations believed that the global financial crisis will have a significant impact on their future existence. Separately, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said a surging shekel and a slowdown in the global economy was starting to show its effects on industry, which has stopped hiring in recent months. "For the first time in three years, employment of workers in the industrial sectors has come to a halt in the months of March and April, after a hiring growth rate of 1% during the months of January and February," said Ruby Ginel, head of the association's economics division. "In addition, the monthly figures show that 500 workers were laid off in March and June, mainly in the traditional industries." In March and April, 245 employees working in the traditional technology sectors (food and beverages, textiles, clothing, furniture, publishing, etc.) were fired. In addition, about 195 workers employed in the mixed-traditional technology sectors (rubber and plastics, mining, basic metal, etc.) were laid off during the same period. Another 70 workers were fired from sectors in the mixed-hi-tech sectors.